Friday, September 19, 2014

#10DaysofTailgate Preview (and a Fantastic Giveaway!)

Welcome to #10DaysofTailgate! We have nearly two dozen bloggers with over one hundred recipes scheduled to inspire you through an entire tailgating season. Think chicken wings, skewers, sweet nibbles, and cocktails. The event runs September 20th through September 30th. Just remember, your fork does not go into your monitor no matter how much you might want to taste some of these dishes!


 Okay? Get ready...get set...Go! Let's start with a huge - HUGE! - thank you to our event sponsors who have graciously donated prizes for our readers. These sponsors have contributed great prizes for a gigantic giveaway. We have an incredible giveaway for this event. There are fourteen different prize packages which are detailed in the rafflecopter. The rafflecopter is below and will go live on September 20th. Please check back, if you're reading this before our kick-off.



Our #10DaysofTailgate Sponsors
in alphabetical order with links to their homepages


Our #10DaysofTailgate Bloggers
And...THE giveaway!
Terms & Conditions
Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment with What's your favorite tailgate dish? Many more ways to enter in the Rafflecopter widget [below].

This giveaway is open to residents of the United States only, age 18 and older. The #10DaysofTailgate 2014 giveaway runs from Saturday, September 20, 2014 12:00am PT through Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 6:00pm PT. Winners will be randomly chosen and announced on October 1, 2014. Winners will also be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond to the email. If a winner does not respond in that time a new winner will be chosen. For more information, see the full terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter widget.

Disclaimer: Our generous sponsors are providing the prizes free of charge.  Participating bloggers may have received product related to these brands to use for #10DaysofTailgate. All opinions stated are their own.


Scroll through our fourteen prize packages!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream

Time for September's Improv Cooking Challenge! 

The theme for this month is milk and honey. I originally was planning to make a cake, but ice cream won the battle. Ice cream winning with me is always a bit or a surprise for me considering cake would almost always be my first choice.... except ice cream cake...blah. 

Recently, I have seen a bunch of different recipes using coconut milk as an ice cream base. I love coconut milk and thought that that was a perfect occasion to give it a try. I whipped up the base very quickly during an afternoon at our cottage in Door County. I used an immersion blender because we do not have a stand blender up there, but I think either would work just fine.  I also opted to use honey as a sweetener over sugar and added a bit of cinnamon.  The ice cream took about 5 hours to freeze and needed a few minutes on the counter before scooping.  Even though it is getting a little cool for ice cream in Wisconsin it is nice to have a quick treat that can be whipped up when the craving hits! 

We are getting ready for a fun filled weekend our nephew's birthday party, visiting friends in Lake Geneva and (hopefully) a Packer win! Tune in tomorrow for a special post on an amazing tailgate party and giveaway!

If you want to join the fun of the Improv Cooking Challenge visit Lesa of Edesia's Notebook for details! 

Stay tuned for next month's recipe using Peanut Butter and Chocolate!


Ingredients

14 oz can full-fat coconut milk 
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pinch  salt


Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender (you could also use a regular stand blender). Transfer ice cream to a freezer safe container. Place in the freezer for 4-6 hours, or until firm. Once firm, remove and serve (it may need to sit for a few minutes before it scoops easily). 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Baked 3 Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is really the ultimate naughty comfort food isn't it? it also happens to be a favorite of Mr. Kellen these days. 

Ron's cousin came for a visit a few weeks ago to go over cloth diapers and all things baby.  Since she was brewing a little one I decided to make her a special treat.  I normally don't stick to a specific type of cheese blend for mac and cheese, and this time I decided a on few varieties for cheddar. 

The entire group loved this dish and using three different types of cheddar was a delicious variation.  Ron and I always go back and forth on what is better: stove top mac and cheese or baked. I think we are indecisive or the answer it whatever we are eating at the moment! In my opinion, the saucier and cheesier- the better. This is great as a side or as a meal on it's own- either way you will have smiles.

Good thing I am headed to the gym tonight for a little weight lifting! After the gym I think a little applesauce making is in order. Have a great day everyone!


Ingredients

4 Tbl salted butter
4 Tbl all purpose flour
2 - 2 1/2 cups milk (I like to use whole or 2%)
1 cup chicken stock (you could use vegetable or more milk for vegetarian option)
1 1/2 cup grated mild cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup grated medium cheddar cheese
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb large elbow noodles
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbl butter, melted


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. 

Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside. 

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Whisk for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Adjust heat if needed to avoid burning. 

Slowly whisk in the milk and stock. Continue whisking and allow the sauce to thicken-slightly simmering-for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. 

Once sauce has thickened add the cheese 1 cup at a time (reserving 1/2 cup of the mild cheddar).  Whisk till all cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper. 

 Pour pasta into a prepared 9x13 baking dish (I use cooking spray).  In a large sealable bag toss bread crumbs and butter till evenly coated.  Top pasta with reserve cheese and spread bread crumbs evenly over the pasta. Bake 30 minutes uncovered. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 9/15 - 9/21

Happy Monday!

This weekend was a lot of fun!  On Friday, we hung around the house, picked some apples and grilled.  We kept things pretty low key because we had a busy weekend ahead of us. 

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early to head to Quarry Quest.

Quarry Quest allows kids and adults to explore a real quarry and try out the machinery. Volunteers work the different machiens and the kids get to sit with them, beep horns, and move the large equipment. They also get to pick rocks, try out fire trucks, make their own cement, climb sand piles, dig for fossils and take a ride in a dump truck.  We were so excited! 
Here are a few shots from our day:



(Kellen in the digger!)



We finished the day with a trip to the grocery store and dinner with Grandma at A'Bravo

On Sunday, I was up bright and early making a few things for the game and a few things for the home. I started a big batch of spicy beef chili so it could simmer until game time at 3:25 pm.  I also created a recipe for an upcoming tailgate challenge. To finish, I roasted a few big heads of garlic and made a kettle of bone broth. If you haven't made bone broth before it is really wonderful as the days get cooler and cold season approaches. It is rich in minerals, good for the gut and helps boost the immune system. I make mine with organic pastured chicken bones, but you could use bones from any healthy animal.  I like to use onions, carrots, celery, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, apple cider vinegar and lots of garlic.  The key is to cook it slow and low to draw out all the nutrients from the bones. Normally, I freeze some and keep some in the fridge for drinking daily.  I found that freezing in ice cube trays is best for quick thawing and use. 

We headed to my parents for the game with my friend Emily's daughter (they went to the game for their anniversary).  We were so excited to celebrate a Packer win! At first I thought that we might be in trouble, but the Pack rallied and took the W. 

This week life is a bit calmer, but her have a fun weekend planned! Friday is our nephew Drew's birthday party and on Saturday we are headed for Lake Geneva for the night to visit some of Ron's college friends! Sunday will of course be more football fun. This week I am am cooking up a storm in preparation for a tailgating challenge with an awesome prize package- stay tuned! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Grilled Brats, Baked Beans, Cottage Cheese and Corn
Tuesday:  Beer Cheese Brat Soup and Salads
Wednesday: Ultimate Bacon Burgers and Green Beans
Thursday: Green Curry and Pineapple Grilled Chicken and Leftovers
Friday: Out for Pizza for our Nephew's Birthday
Saturday: Lake Geneva
Sunday: Go Pack Go! I am making Grilled Chipotle Ranch Chicken Wings

Extras: Brat Bites

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

First things first.  The winner of Cooking and Baking with Almond Four is... Dawn Bedingfield!  Please e-mail me at cheesecurdinparadise@gmail.com with your contact information. 

Today I bring you a side dish to use any remaining zucchini from your gardens. This recipe comes from Josie of Pink Parsley and is absolutely wonderful! In our house, the main protein never seems to be a problem, but the side dishes can become ho-hum. I love finding a dish like this that is, not only easy, but delicious. My Ron is not a zucchini lover, but thought the rice was excellent and Kellen, who is a a zucchini lover, adored his "cheesy zucchini".  I served this a long side a grilled marinated chicken breast and it was the star of the night.  

I stayed true to Josie's original recipe, but added a few splashed of dry white wine because I happen to be drinking it while cooking and I love the flavor it gives to the dish. 

Yesterday my friend Emily and her daughter joined Kellen and I on a trip to Washington Island.  Ever since I heard that there was a lavender farm that opened this summer I have been itching to take a trip.  The farm was really cool and I am excited to go back next summer before everything is harvested.  Here is a picture of Kellen and chillin' in the field:

Getting to Washington Island is a lot of fun. It is a 30 minute boat ride and the lake was a bit choppy today and we got shot with water once or twice. 

We also stopped at the Farm Museum (new to both of us) and it was so fun! It was filled with old machinery, trails and even animals. Here is Mr. K exploring the Farm Musesum (I had to break out the Jack Skellington hat!):


Hope everyone has an amazing weekend! We are picking apples tonight and grilling and tomorrow are taking the kids to Quarry Quest in Oshkosh, but the more exciting is always- Sunday football!


Ingredients

2 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbl dry white wine (optional)
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 Tbs butter
1 medium zucchini, grated 
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
salt and pepper, to taste


Instructions

Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the rice and wine, cover, and reduce heat to low.

Cook about 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and add the butter and zucchini.  Cover and allow to stand 5 minutes. Remove cover and stir to incorporate all ingredients.  Stir in the cheese, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cookbook Review & Giveaway: Caprese Quinoa Bake with Balsamic Reduction

Today I am bringing you a delicious recipe from Nicole Morrissy newest cookbook Prevention RD's Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour.  


Nicole is registered dietitian and diabetes educator. She is also author of the blog Prevention RD and participates on a cooking board with me. 

I jumped at the chance to review the new cookbook because I have tried other recipes of Nicole's and each one was yummy and delicious. I also have many friends that follow a gluten free diet due to gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease. In my own household, we followed a gluten free diet for a few years while Ron struggled with different stomach problems.  We are not currently gluten free, but I am very familiar with the lifestyle and wanted to bring a recipe to you while promoting Nicole's wonderful cookbook. 

The cookbook is divided up by different courses such as, breakfast, sides & starters, entrees, breads & muffins and dessert. Each category has a large variety of different options that will calm any cravings. A few of my favorites were are: Bakes Egg Cups, Protein Pancakes, Sweet and Savory Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers, Shrimp, Pesto and Goat Cheese Pizza, Ricotta Basil Turkey Meatballs, Peanut Butter Banana Muffins and Lemon Bars.  In addition to a large variety of recipes, Nicole created different icons displayed with each recipe noting sugar free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, low carb, high fiber and dairy free.  I really like the icons because it is a quick glance for the ready if they are looking for a specific type of recipe to prepare. 

The recipe I decided to share with you is Nicole's Caprese Quinoa Bake with Balsamic Reduction.  In my house caprese rules the day and I loved the idea of a warm side dish to accompany an entree from the grill. However, you could certainly have this as a main meal as well. I used fresh tomatoes and basil from our farmer's market and a wonderful aged balsamic I picked up in Door County.  The recipe is very easy to follow and makes 4 servings for an entree or 6-8 as a side dish.  Nicole notes that In place of using an egg, almond flour acts as the “binder” to keep this bake easy to serve in single pieces.  The frosting on the cake is the delicious drizzle of sweet balsamic over the finished product created a perfect medley of summer flavors. 

Congratulations Nicole on a beautiful and delicious cookbook! Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour can be purchesed at Amazon,Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and Indiebound.

I am giving away a copy of Nicole's cookbook to one reader. To enter just comment below and I will randomly select a winner and announce it on Friday at 8:00 a.m. 


Ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup + 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped and divided
3 large tomatoes or 6 small tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
6 oz. fresh mozzarella
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup almond flour
1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated


Instructions

Rinse quinoa under cold running water in a fine mesh strainer for 1–2 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small pan, along with 2 cups of water. Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer quinoa for 15 minutes, remove from heat, and allow to sit for 10–15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

In a medium bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup basil; stir.Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and layer the bottom with half the tomato slices. Top the tomatoes with the quinoa and press the quinoa gently into an even layer using the back of a spatula, reaching the sides and corners of the pan. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and place over the quinoa. Layer the remaining tomatoes on top of the mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, heat the balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat. Simmer for 10–15 minutes or until reduced by half and consistency is syrupy. Stir often to avoid burning.

In a small dish, combine the almond flour and Parmigiano-Reggiano; mix well. After 15 minutes of baking, remove quinoa bake from the oven and sprinkle with almond flour mixture. Change oven setting to broil and return bake to the oven. Broil for 30–90 seconds, being sure to avoid burning. Remove from oven. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle with reserved 3 tablespoons basil.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 9/8/14 - 9/14/14

Happy Monday!

This weekend was busy, but so much fun! 

On Friday, I headed to my friend Emily's to get the bags ready for her expo and have a little wine. 

 On Saturday, we took our weekly trip to the farmer's market and grabbed all sorts of goodies for the week. I am getting so sad that the season is slowly ending and we have to wait another year for fresh garden veggies. In the afternoon we headed to Appleton for my friend Amanda's son's 12th birthday party.  It is crazy because I first met him when he was 3 and now he is becoming such a grown-up.  Amanda and I met while working on a Congressional campaign and have been thick as thieves ever since. After the party we stopped over at Ron's parents so they could have a little time with Kellen.  Saturday night my friend Kayla and I brought the kids to the park before heading to help Emily set up for the expo the following morning. 

On Sunday, I headed over to the Belly to Baby Expo and helped set up. The expo was a big success and I am so proud of Emily and all her hard work. Check out the rock star right here talking with the media:

I also got a little henna:

Later in the day, and after a little relaxation, I we met our friends at the park and headed home for dinner, watermelon and a few funny faces from Mr. K. 


This week I am headed out for sushi with a few girl friends, going to a Tupperware party (I am really excited about this), a few trips to the gym, volleyball playoffs and a trip to Door County to the lavender farm on Washington Island with Emily and her daughter. I have been wanting to go to the lavender farm all summer and am super excited to go. 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Dinner with the Girls & Pizza for Ron and Kellen
Tuesday: Grilled Pickle Chicken, Cheesy Potato Casserole and Green Beans
Wednesday: Out
Thursday: Bacon Pierogie Bake and Broccoli
Friday: Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce, Cous Cous and Broccoli
Saturday: Out for Dinner
Sunday:  Spicy Beef Chili