Big Blind, Little Blind

When we built our barn we included a viewing room that has a full kitchen, dining table, sitting area, fireplace and bar. The idea was that we could host all kinds of events with the horses in their stalls right across the aisle. We’ve had Christmas parties, family and business dinners, holiday meals, and cocktail hours a plenty, but the one thing we had yet to host was a poker night. We had been dreaming of using the full bar as a place to gather, cut loose and play a little Texas Hold ‘Em since it’s completion, but hadn’t yet made it happen. I finally decided this weekend was the perfect time to break in our poker chips and do a little friendly gambling at Badlands.

I usually like to give myself plenty of time to plan a party, at least a few weeks, but because Josh was leaving to start touring for his new album, I knew I needed to make poker night happen sooner rather than later if he was going to be able to join us. I decided on a Tuesday night to reach out to our friends and see if they could make it to a Friday evening poker party and thankfully almost everyone was available. Once I had the guest list confirmed I started to get organized. I ordered a round poker table top from Amazon Prime (thank God for free three day delivery) and picked a wild west theme in order to narrow down food, booze and playlist ideas.

Picking a theme really helped keep me on task and saved me a ton of time sifting through endless recipes on Pinterest. I started bright and early Friday morning and had everything done by 5pm, a good two hours before the party was to begin. Even though I vowed to keep it simple, it still took me the entire day to get everything ready and I’m not gonna lie, my feet were absolutely killing me! It was worth it though, the night was a huge success and I can’t wait till the next one!

Beer Cheese Dip

10 minutes preparation time

Makes 4 – 6 cups

Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese Dip
  • Two 12 oz bags shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • One 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Between ⅔ – 1 cup IPA beer
  1. Put all ingredients except the beer into a Cuisinart and pulse until well blended. I used my new Ninja blender and it worked like a dream!
  2. Once the ingredients are well blended add a ¼ cup of the beer at a time, pulsing after each addition until you reach the consistency you like. I wanted my beer cheese thick and creamy so I only used about ⅔ cups of beer.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese Dip

Pretzel Bites

1 hour

60 bites

Josh Kelley Preparing Pretzel Bites

I had Josh prepare the pretzel bites. He has become an amazing baker!

There are a ton of recipes for delicious and easy soft pretzel bites out there. This is the one we used for our poker night party from Chef Savvy and they were a huge hit!!

Pretzel Bites

Spicy Salty Boiled Peanuts

3 hours

Serves 6 to 8 people snacking

Spicy, Salty Boiled Peanuts
  • 3 lbs raw peanuts in the shell
  • 2 heads of garlic cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 12 ounce bottles of IPA
  • Josh’s Home Made Brine
  • Water as needed
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot adding enough water to cover the peanuts.
  2. Bring the ingredients to the boil.
  3. Continue boiling for three hours, checking the pot every 45 minutes to make sure the peanuts are still covered by the liquid.
  4. If the liquid starts to boil down too low, add more water as necessary.
Spicy, Salty Boiled Peanuts

Josh’s Home Made Brine

15 minutes

2 quarts

Josh's Home Made Brine
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 ½ cups kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups fresh pepper corns
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 stems rosemary
  • 4 sage leaves
  • ¼ cup agave
  1. Bring water to a boil in a pot.
  2. Add all ingredients to the boiling water.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit for ten minutes.
  4. Pour the brine over a bowl of ice and let cool before using.
  5. Can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Dressed Up Rice and Beans

30 minutes

12 servings

Great northern beans and rice dressed up with bratwurst, onion, garlic and seasoning.

  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 packages of 12 oz pork bratwurst chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil plus ¼ cup for fried sage leaves
  • 3 cups white rice (I used calrose rice)
  • 3 cans of 15 oz great northern beans drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups chicken bone broth (I get this at whole foods but if you can’t find it you can easily substitute chicken broth)
  • 1 cup dry white wine such as vermouth
  • 2 teaspoons ghost pepper sea salt (I get this at my local grocery store. It’s a bit spicy so if you want less heat use only 1 teaspoon)
  • ¼ cup fresh sage leaves
  1. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter is fully melted.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and bratwurst and saute until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the beans, rice, bone broth, vermouth and ghost pepper sea salt to the onion and bratwurst mixture.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Cooking the rice really depends on what kind you’re using, and you can use whatever suits your fancy. Just check the package to determine the correct cooking time.
  5. In a small sauce pan heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium high heat.
  6. Add the sage leaves and fry for about 2–3 seconds until crispy but not burnt.
  7. Remove the sage leaves from the pan and place on paper towels to dry.
  8. Once cooled, crumble the leaves over the rice and beans stirring to combine.

Big Skillet Salted Caramel Cookie

15 to 25 minutes

6 – 8 very generous slices

I found the inspiration for the skillet cookie on Pinterest and then went ahead and did my own thing. This gal’s blog PinchOfYum is great!

Salty Caramel Sauce

I used this caramel sauce for the cookie and it was to die for!
  • 2 sticks lightly salted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 10 oz jar salted caramel
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
  2. Combine the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a kitchen aide or in my case a Ninja blender, mix the vanilla, butter, eggs, sugar, brown sugar and maple syrup until creamed.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients and pulse or blend until combined.
  5. Add in the chocolate chunks and chips stirring until evenly distributed.
  6. Pour the mixture into a large skillet, spreading it out until the bottom of the skillet is fully covered.
  7. Pour the salted caramel over the top of the cookie dough, using a spatula to spread it evenly across.
  8. Bake the cookie for 15 – 25 minutes, depending on how gooey you want the middle of the cookie to be.
  9. Serve warm with ice cream if you want the full sugar coma experience!


I picked up some Midnight Moon Cherries and Apple Pie Moonshine from my local liquor store thinking they would make the perfect cocktails for a Texas Hold ‘Em poker night and I was right! The Junior’s Cherry Bourbon and Old Fashioned Apple Pie recipes are not only easy to make but so delicious you can’t help but have more than one… thankfully Josh agreed to be the DD (designated driver) that night!

Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine

Moonshine. No longer purchased on the down low but conveniently sold in liquor stores across the country!
Josh Kelley Enjoying A Cocktail

Josh may have been driving but he had to try at least one!

Poker Night Playlist

We created a Johnny Cash playlist in Pandora and here’s a little sample of what came up!

  • Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
  • The Gambler – Kenny Rogers (of course!)
  • King Of The Road – Roger Miller
  • Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That – Dolly Parton
  • Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys – Willie Nelson
  • Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
  • You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man) – Loretta Lynn
  • Jackson – Johnny Cash & June Carter
  • Chug-a-Lug – Roger Miller
  • Joshua – Dolly Parton
  • Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
  • The Fightin’ Side Of Me – Merle Haggard
  • Dang Me – Roger Miller
  • Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man – Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty
  • Ring Of Fire – Johnny Cash
  • The Bottle Let Me Down – Merle Haggard
  • Coal Miner’s Daughter – Loretta Lynn
  • Do-Wacka-Do – Roger Miller
  • It Ain’t Me Babe – Johnny Cash & June Carter
  • Tennessee Homesick Blues – Dolly Parton
  • Me and Bobby McGee – Merle Haggard
  • Katy Too – Johnny Cash
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  • Jessica

    Such a fun idea! I love the Wild West and those recipes all look terrific, too. Love it 🙂

    April 20, 2016 at 1:53 pm Reply
  • Tiffany

    Amazon prime is awesome!! I just said that to my husband last week. You can get almost anything. I didn’t know they had a poker table. How funny. Love that you listed the recipes and play list. We moved to a new neighborhood recently. This might be the thing to get to know our neighbors. Thanks for sharing.

    April 21, 2016 at 5:20 pm Reply
  • Rose

    You had me at Pretzel Bites, I love me some Pretzels And the drink in your post picture looks so good

    Got to love Pocker night.❤️

    April 21, 2016 at 7:17 pm Reply
  • Stephanie

    That looks like so much fun! What a great idea! I’m going to have to try this out sometime. 🙂

    April 21, 2016 at 7:18 pm Reply
  • Elaine

    Oh Yum…Just Yum!

    April 25, 2016 at 1:38 am Reply
  • Katie Toombs

    I’ve just recently discovered that you have a blog…I love it! Wonderful ideas! Thank you for sharing your life and projects with us. This artist is in love~ xoxo

    August 13, 2016 at 2:04 am Reply
  • Leave a Reply

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