Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Feta and Garlic Scape Pesto Pasta Salad

My in-laws came over for dinner on Sunday to help evaluate an uneven spot on our deck.  I wanted to use up the rest of my garlic scape pesto before freezing the remainder for later. Ron and I love pasta salads with a pesto dressing and I thought it would be a delicious way to feed the crowd.  I kept the recipe pretty simple and used a basic mayo based, but opted for greek yogurt over sour cream.  I think you could easily use a basil based pesto in this recipe and have lovely results. 

Our family loved this recipe and it was a perfect side for our cook out.  Kellen has started to get into liking noodles and thought it was delicious as well. However, the brats always steal the show for him- he is a Wisconsin boy! 

Tonight we have volleyball and I am excited because we have been on a winning steak. However, I probably just jinxed us....oops.  I am certainly looking forward to having a beer or two.....who am I kidding or three....


Ingredients

1 lb shaped pasta
1 1/2 cup mayo
1 cup greek yogurt
6 oz crumbled feta
3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar


Instructions

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk mayo, yogurt and pesto together.  In a large bowl, add pasta, tomatoes and olives. Add pesto dressing and stir gently to evenly coat. Add feta and gently stir until  the cheese is evenly mixed in to the pasta.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate till you are ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Peach and Plum Galette

Right now the farmer's market is chucked full of peach from the south. It is one of my favorite things to buy each week because they are such a rarity for us the remainder of the year.  I am always looking for different ways to prepare the peaches and I book marked this recipe from Confessions of a Foodie Bride  because it looked absolutely amazing and easy (as we know this is a must when it comes to me and baking).  The only change I made was to use a little course raw sugar in place of granulated because I love the crunch it gives to dough when baked.  We served this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream over the top, bit I also tried it with a bit of my salted caramel gelato and it was delicious. Kellen gave this a thumbs up as well which is not surprising because he adores peaches.  One of Kellen's new favorite things to do is stand next to the fridge or counter and yell "maaaa peeaacccch maaaa peeeeaaccchhh!!"....... ask and you shall receive my boy. 


Ingredients

3 medium peaches, skin-on and sliced
3 plums, skin-on and sliced
1 pie crust (I used a pre-made from our bakery, but you could make our own)
Flour
1 egg whisked with 1 Tbl water
1 1/2 Tbl raw sugar


Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stretch (or roll if you made your own) your pie crust on lightly floured parchment paper.

Arrange the sliced fruit working out from the center in a spiral. Make sure to leave about 2 inches boarder around the outside to fold over. 

Fold the crust edges up and over the fruit (I tucked as I circles the fruit). 

Transfer the parchment to a baking sheet.
Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle evenly with sugar.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the fruit center is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

Top with ice cream and serve. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 7/21 - 7/27

Happy Monday! 

This weekend was super low key and wonderful. On Friday we went for steaks and visited with friends from Madison.  Kellen tried a few bites of steak for the first time and gave it a rave toddler review of "mmmmm!".  Saturday we went to  the Farmer's Market with our friends and picked up lovely produce and a beautiful bunch of colorful flowers.  After the market, we bummed around and caught up on house work before grilling our dinner after the afternoon heat died down.  On Sunday, we went for breakfast at one of our favorite spots and prepared dinner for Ron's parents. Ron's dad came to look at our deck, which will thankfully be an easy fix, and help cut down a dead tree (yay for firewood!).  Ron's mom and I played with Kellen and did a few laps around the yard to watch the tree chopping in action.  Later in the evening we feasted on brats, beans, pasta salad, watermelon, grilled corn and my mother-in-law's delicious cake with fresh raspberries.  Perfect lazy weekend. 

This week is a pretty slow, but it is followed by an exciting weekend! My cousin is getting married and my entire family will be in town. I am really excited to be with everyone and go to a wedding- I love weddings! I am also hoping to get in a trip to the farmer's market to stock up before our week in Door County (yes- an entire week...so excited!). 

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Rosemary Ranch Grilled Chicken, Leftover Pasta Salad and Fresh Peas
Tuesday: Chicken Chorizo Patty Melts, Raw Veggies and Fruit
Wednesday: Crab Cakes, Old Bay Roasted Potatoes and Fresh Fruit
Thursday: Grilled Steak,  Cheesy Zucchini Rice and Green Beans
Friday: Dinner with Family
Saturday: Shane and Erika's Wedding
Sunday: Loaded Potato and Chicken Casserole and Green Beans

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cranberry BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Crispy Shallots

Time for July's Crazy Ingredient Challenge!

The theme for this month is cranberries and shallots. I was a little disappointed because cranberries are not in season right now and there is so many different types of wonderful summer produce.  However, I enjoy the challenge of creating a new recipe and began to brainstorm different ideas involving canned or frozen cranberries.  My first thought was a barbecue sauce, but I wanted to make something that would be an easy weeknight meal for my family.  I like to use my crockpot in the summer because it allows for flexibility around dinner time.....i.e. more time to play outside! 

I decided to create an sweet and tangy bbq sauce with canned cranberries, bbq sauce, mustard and hot sauce in my crockpot with chicken breasts. My next challenge was to use the shallots and I thought topping the chicken sandwiches with crispy shallots would give a perfect crunch.  I sliced the shallots thin and lightly tossed them is a seasoned flour blend.  I do not normally fry foods at home (I hate the mess), but these thin shallots were so easy and there was hardly any spatter mess to clean. A note of caution, the shallots will burn easily and it is important to babysit them while they fry because they can be over done very fast. 

Ron and I loved these sandwiches! The cranberry gives a sweet little tang, but works well with them rest of the flavors. The sirircha adds a bit of heat, but it is very mellow when paired with the smokey bbq. The onions give a salty crunchy to the sandwich and are the perfect topper for this sandwich. 

If you are interested in joining our challenge, stop over to Dawn of Spatulas on Parade to say hello and to get more information. 



Ingredients

1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cranberry sauce
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1 tsp sriracha (or other hot sauce)
1/2 cup chicken stock

for shallots:
4-5 large shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 Canola Oil

6 sandwich buns, sliced in half


Instructions

Whisk cranberry sauce, bbq, mustard, sriracha and chicken stock in a medium bowl. Place chicken into the crockpot and pour the sauce over the chicken. Toss to coat. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Remove chicken from the crockpot and shred (I like to use my KitchenAid mixer for this, but you can do it by hand).  Place chicken back into the crockpot and stir to make sure it soaks in all the sauce. Set to warm while the onions are prepared. 

Heat oil in a deep skillet till over medium high heat. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together flour, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss sliced onions into flour and make sure they are evenly coated. Allow oil to almost come to a simmer, but is not smoking. Fry shallots in small batches to prevent sticking. Each batch will take about 2 minutes. Once golden brown, remove shallots and place on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with additional salt if desired. 

Place a portion of the chicken onto the bun, top with crispy shallots and enjoy! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Grilled Shrimp with Garlic Scape Pesto

One thing I really love about the summer is the farmer's market.  In Green Bay we have two- one on Wednesday night and one on Saturday morning.  I love walking around and looking at all the fresh produce. I love the farming culture of Wisconsin and the eagerness of people to get their hands dirty growing their own health meals.  I recently posted a recipe for garlic scape pesto and have been using it on all different types of things.  I even have a bit frozen for when the cold weather hits.  

I decided to grill a few skewers of shrimp flavored with pesto to go with a caprese macaroni and cheese. The result was amazing. The garlic scapes give a delicious and fresh flavor to the shrimp. The pesto holds up great next to the slightly charred shrimp, but still provides a bit of sharp garlic flavor. This recipe would work very nicely with a basil pesto (or another herb) as well.  Ron and I really enjoyed the shrimp and the grill allows for quick and easy cook time.

Tonight we are headed to the Union Hotel for dinner with friends from out of town. They are known for their steaks and we will certainly be par-taking. They also have amazing saute mushrooms for a side and I can't wait to top my steak with them (perhaps a bit of blue cheese as well!). Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday and an even better weekend!


Ingredients

1 - 1 1/4 lb raw shrimp, peeled and cleaned
3 Tbl garlic scape pesto
Bamboo Skewers


Instructions

Soak bamboo skewers for 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Place shrimp in a medium bowl and gently toss it in the pesto to evenly coat all of the shrimp.

Thread 5-6 shrimp through each skewer from top to tail.  

Heat grill to medium and grill shrimp 2 minutes on one side, flip and finish for an additional 1 minute.  Remove from grill and serve. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thai Popcorn & Peanut Crusted Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Time for July's Imprvo Cooking Challenge! 

The theme for this month is popcorn and peanuts. I loved the idea of this theme because of the tie to baseball and for the versatility to be creative with the ingredients.  I was really torn on if I wanted to try a baseball type treat like crackerjack, or go for a Thai inspired dish.  I ultimately decided to create a Thai inspired main dish for this challenge. I knew that I wanted to make a peanut sauce and thought that I could create a crispy crust for chicken to go with it.  I used my food processor to get a fine breading using popcorn and peanuts to dredge my chicken. I also used coconut milk  and ginger to dip prior to dredging to keep the chicken juice and flavorful, but allow the breading to stay in place.  The peanut sauce was Thai inspired using peanut butter, coconut milk, curry paste and fresh basil. 

The verdict in our house was two thumbs up. The chicken did not get as crispy as I envisioned, but neither of us minded. The breading stayed on nicely and it was very flavorful. I could taste all of the different components, but they blended together really well.  I think adding a bit of regular bread crumbs to the popcorn and peanut would make it a touch crispier.  The sauce was absolutely delicious and makes the dish.  I found myself going back for more to make sure there was sauce with each bite. Warming of the sauce is key because it thins the peanut butter. I served this along side a Asian style vegetable blend and saute zucchini.  We will definitely be making this meal again! 

If you want to join the fun of the Improv Cooking Challenge visit Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for details! 

Next month's theme is beans and bacon....a favorite combo of mine. 


Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
1/2 cup coconut milk (I use full fat)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup roasted lightly salted peanuts
2 cups plain popcorn

for sauce:
1/8 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup coconut milk (I use full fat)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 heaping Tbl chopped fresh basil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cooked Brown Rice


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. 

For breading: combine peanuts and popcorn in a food processor and pulse till evenly ground. 

For egg wash: whisk together egg, 1/2 cup coconut milk (I put the contents into a bowl prior to adding it to the egg and whisk because it will be separate in the can), ginger, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken into the egg wash and then into the peanut mixture. Flip the chicken and press breading into the chicken so it is evenly coated. Place chicken into the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remainder of the chicken.  Place chicken in the oven and bake for 35 minutes (or until completely cooked). 

While the chicken is baking make the peanut sauce.  Place chicken stock, peanut butter, remaining coconut milk, curry paste and basil into a food processor and pulse till smooth. Place the sauce into a sauce pan during the last 10 minutes of the chicken's cooking time to warm. Season with salt and pepper is desired. 

Remove chicken from oven and serve over brown rice. Top with warm sauce and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Garlic Scape Pesto

On Saturday I went to the farmer's market and bought a new to me product called garlic scapes. I had heard of them before, but had never cooked with them. I know they are only available a limited time of year because they are harvested in late June early July. I went to my cooking board because I knew these ladies would have great ideas. A few ladies recommended this recipe for garlic scape pesto, but used almonds over the pistachios in the recipe. I had a caprese macaroni and cheese on the menu for dinner and thought it would be perfect with this pesto spread over grilled shrimp. 

This pesto did not disappoint and was absolutely delicious. The garlic scapes have a nice garlic flavor to them, but have a bit of sweetness. I also loved the addition of the almonds over the pistachios paired with the light garlic flavor. I actually made two batches so I could freeze some for later. I used this on our grilled shrimp, but am planning on some potatoes this week and a salad dressing.  

If you are at your local famer's market and see these guy give them, and this easy recipe, a try. 

Tonight we are playing volleyball at my work's employee picnic. My parents are coming with Kellen and we will have a little time to play at the park after the tourney and dinner. We attended last year and was a blast.  A bunch of my co-workers have young children to it is really fun to bring Kellen to play with everyone. 


Ingredients

10 large garlic scapes
1/3 cup unsalted almonds
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


Ingredients

Puree the garlic scapes, almonds, cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until very finely chopped. With the food processor running, slowly pour the oil through the opening.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to a week or freeze.