Monday, January 26, 2015

Bacon Pesto Spread

I love dip and spreads, and if you are a regular read you know that I love to play with different flavors. One of my favorite flavor combinations is pesto and bacon. It seems that it has become pretty popular and I have seen it more and more in restaurants (mainly with pasta). I love the herby garlic flavors in pesto mixed with the smokey salty bacon. I also love fresh tomatoes in this combination for a little acidity.  

I made this with the last of our homemade pesto from the summer and it made me sad that I have to wait till July for the bounty of fresh basil. I can buy it at the store, but it is very expensive since it is off season. However, it was wonderful to get a flavor from the summer in this appetizer. Besides being delicious this dip is super quick, and the only thing that takes a little time is cooking the bacon and chopping the tomatoes! The dip also travels well and would be perfect to bring to a Superbowl party this Sunday. 

Tonight we are hanging at home and I am working on a few recipes for an upcoming blog event/giveaway. The movie Fury also come out this week to rent at home, and we have been wanting to see it and never had a chance in the theater.  Ron and I both like history (esp WWII) and WWII military movies are usually something we never miss, and our interest was the reason for our trip to Normandy, France last summer. I was thinking about Normandy the other day while making dinner and I wish I was back there again! It feels very similar the the area I live the the coastal beauty is second to none. If you ever have a chance to visit- take it without a second thought! 


Ingredients

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
12 slices bacon, cooked and chopped 
1/3 cup pesto
1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes


Instructions

Mix together cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Stir in the pesto and then gently mix in the bacon (reserving 1 Tbl for topping). Spread into a serving dish. Top with quartered tomatoes and chopped bacon. Serve immediately with crackers or bread, or chill until ready to serve.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chicken Chesapeake

Ron and I have a serious love for crab cakes and almost always order them when we are out for dinner. We also love making them at home with and always use this recipe.  I came across Tide and Thyme's recipe for Chicken Chesapeake on my cooking board and it sounded fantastic!  Chicken, crab, cheese and bacon- sign me up!

This recipe was adapted from Tide and Thyme's recipe for Chicken Chesapeake. I changed the crab mixture and cooking method on my version of the dish. I bulked up the amount of crab and added a few other ingredients. Also, the crab cake is more like a crab cake stuffed into the chicken and sits on top versus stuffed into the chicken breast.  However, the cheese and bacon recommended in the original recipe were naturally a must in my house!  This was a great weeknight meal and was a great combination of a delicious crab cake and juicy baked chicken.

Last night a few friends and I went to a restaurant called 335 and it was so delicious! They are only open on Wednesday nights following the market so it was great to finally have a chance to go. I have had  the catered food and my baby shower was help there, but it was fun to go for dinner! I think that the simple goat cheese with honey comb and beet and orange salad stole the show for me! Sometimes it is the little things that are the most delicious. We also tried roasted bone marrow which was something I have wanted to order for awhile and finally got the chance to share with my foodie friend Tracy. We also shared a few delicious desserts: churros with blood orange sauce, affogato and pomegranate soft serve. Yum.

Isn't the beet salad pretty?!


Tonight I am headed to the gym after work and then home to make dinner and watch SVU with my friend Emily. I am making lasagna soup and Ron’s eye lit up this morning when I told him what was on the meal plan for the evening- it is one of his favorites.  This weekend we are going to have a few fun things on the agenda- Ron has a cribbage tournament on Saturday and we are going out for Thai after. Thai curry = love in my book and I am really excited!


Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 strips thick-cut bacon, sliced
1 Tbsp Old Bay
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

For the filling:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbl sour cream
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg, beaten
6.5 oz lump crab meat
1/2 cup crushed saltines
1 Tbl finely chopped fresh parsley


Instructions

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.

Prepare the crab filling by combining cream cheese, sour cream, mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, egg, crushed saltines and parsley. Carefully fold in crab meat until combined. Let the crab mixture rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Season chicken breasts with Old Bay. Using a small knife, cut a pocket into the center of each chicken breast – about 2 inches long by 1 inch wide. Place 1/4 of the crab filling into the pocket of each chicken breast. The chicken breast does not need to be closed or sealed. 

Place filled chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish and bake in the oven 30-40 minutes (this may depend on the size of the chicken breasts). 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Roasted Chicken with Smoked Paprika, Blood Orange and Ginger

I originally saw this recipe from Elly Says Opa! over a year ago and bookmarked it to try once blood orange season came around. Well, I never had a chance to make it until now and figured that another savory dish featuring delicious winter citrus was in order! This chicken marinade is chalked full of different flavors and makes one delicious chicken dinner. Elly cooked potatoes in her roasting pan with her chicken, and I opted to do the same because less dishes are always a plus! I loved the flavor of the cilantro with the bite from the ginger and jalapeno, and smokiness of the paprika! The fresh flavors from the orange also provide a wonderful and subtle sweetness to the chicken. I only made a slight change to the recipe and added a little mustard to the marinade because I love the flavor it gives to chicken. The other great thing about this recipe is the crispy skin on the chicken thighs.  I love cooking chicken with the skin on, but hate when it does not turn out crispy. The potatoes are equally delicious and full of flavor from roasting in the delicious pan juices alongside the meat. This recipe will work well with regular oranges if you do not have blood oranges. 

Tonight, I am headed out to dinner with a few girlfriends to a restaurant called 335. I have eaten here a few times and had the catered for at my gift opening, baby shower and a few political parties. The food is always creative and delicious and I am really excited to go!  Ron and Kellen are having a boys night and having a pizza- Kellen will be thrilled because he has been asking for pizza for weeks!


Ingredients

1 tsp blood orange zest
1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 Tbl olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbl fresh cilantro
1 small jalapeño, halved
1 Tbl grated fresh ginger root
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked hot paprika
1 3/4 - 2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 8 thighs)
1/2 tsp salt
Sliced scallions for serving

for potatoes (optional):
3 - 3 1/2 cups chopped potatoes 
1 1/2 Tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper


Instructions

In a blender or food processor, combine the zest, juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, ginger, salt, and paprika. Blend until smooth. Place chicken in a large re-sealable bag and pour in marinade. Seal and gently toss to coat. Place in the fridge and marinate 4-8 hours (longer the better). 

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix potatoes oil, salt and pepper- set aside. Place the chicken in a pan and surround the chicken with the potatoes. Sprinkle chicken with a little salt if desired. Roast the chicken until skin is golden and meat juices are no longer pink, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from over and sprinkle with sliced scallions. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Beef and Quinoa Meatballs in Lemongrass Curry

Time for January's Crazy Ingredient Challenge!


The theme for this month was lemongrass and quinoa. When I first heard the ingredients I did not think it would be too tricky, but when I sat down to create my recipe it was very tricky! I recently received a few products from Gourmet Garden for an upcoming blog challenge and one of them was lemongrass. The product is almost like a paste and is sold by the bagged salad and herbs at the grocery store.  I was really happy that I had something to use because I have had a hard time finding lemongrass when looking for other recipes! 

I decided that I was not going to use the quinoa as a side dish, but was going to make it the binder for a meatball in a curry sauce. I opted to go for Thai flavors such as basil, chili, ginger and a little lime (and of course lemongrass) in a coconut sauce.  I have made variations of this style curry before, but never with meatballs and I was excited to taste the fruits of my labor.  I also added a generous amount of cauliflower and broccoli. I love the way they soak up curry sauce and they are always a favorite of mine when in a Thai curry entrée. 

How did my quinoa beef meatballs turn out? Kellen and I thought they were delicious! Ron was not a big fan, but he is not a quinoa lover like the rest of us that drink the kool-aid on this grain. I liked that the quinoa made the meatballs sturdy and they could take a stir or two in my skillet and not fall apart.  However, Ron (along with the rest of us) really enjoyed the curry sauce.  The curry sauce is excellent and full of flavor. It is not very spicy and if you like more heat you can add a little chopped chili or a bit more paste to your recipe. I was feeding a little mouth that is just getting use to a little heat and did not want to overwhelm him. Kellen surprisingly loves spicy food, but only can take a little at a time. He wanted to try a bit of sriracha this past weekend and was allowed licked a tiny bit off a fork. His cheeks got a little red, but it didn’t stop him from wanting more…..my little fire eater. I have to limit him because his mouth likes it, but his little hinder- not so much……. 

Tonight, I heading to the gym and then home a dinner.  We are juicing the last of my blood oranges for a new (to me) chicken thigh and roasted potato recipe. I will get the post up quick so if you have a few blood oranges you take advantage! 

If you are interested in joining our challenge, stop over to Dawn of Spatulas on Parade to say hello and to get more information.  I am excited to see what next month will bring! 


Ingredients

for meatballs:
1 1/2 lb ground beef (I use 85% lean)
Two eggs
1 Tbl  chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup cooked quinoa
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp fresh lime zest zest


for curry sauce:
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl lemongrass paste (I use Gourmet Garden)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbl finely chopped fresh basil
2 1/2 - 3 Tbl Thai red curry paste (depends on your taste)
2 cans coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, grease lightly and set aside.  Gently mix all meatball ingredients together until fully combined. Roll meatballs using your hands to uniform shape and size. This recipe makes 24-30 meatballs.  Place meatballs on the baking sheet and cook 35-40 minutes.

In a large rimmed skillet, sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat till tender. Add garlic, lemongrass paste,  ginger, basil and Thai red curry paste. Stir to evenly coat the onions.

 Whisk in the coconut milk followed by the chicken stock. Add the cauliflower and broccoli and simmer for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs to the sauce and stir. Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve over hot rice.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 1/19 - 1/25

Green Bay has a bit of a cloud over it this morning after yesterdays loss to Seattle. It was a total bummer of a game, but the team is still strong and hopefully we will make it to the Superbowl next year- I was really hoping that this was the year! Other than the Packer loss we had a really wonderful weekend in the Dells!

I was off on Friday and got the family ready for the trip so we would leave right when Ron was done with work on Friday.  We stayed at The Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells and had a blast checking out the place when we arrived on Friday night. The pools closed, but Kellen checked out the game room before crashed for the night.

A natural? Mom isn't too sure about that! 


The following morning we did a little more exploring and started the day with a big breakfast before meeting our friends at the water park. The Wilderness has three different pools (including a lazy river and a large wave pool!) and Kellen loved every minute. We spent a lot of time by the lazy river because there was a large shallow area for the kids to play and splash. In the afternoon, Kellen enjoyed lunch and a long nap. We ordered spaghetti in the room and took a trip to the arcade (Kellen won a stuffed Turbo!).  

Kellen and Dad in the lazy river!


On Sunday, we packed up and got breakfast before heading to the pool for one last swim. Ron and Kellen rode a tube in the wave pool and I hung on to they didn't flip over! It was wild surf! After, we met with our friends and swam a little longer before getting our stuff together and heading home. We went right to my parents for the game. We enjoyed snacks and drinks before the defeat....boo.... oh well, we have next year! After the game we headed home for warm baths and a bit of relaxing. Kellen headed to bed early and we watched an episode of Cold Justice (seriously, if you haven't watched thus show give it a try!). 

This week I do not have a lot on the agenda, but am having dinner with my girlfriends on Wednesday. This weekend Ron has a cribbage tournament and we are going out for Thai! 

Have a great week! 

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Weeknight White Chicken Chili
Tuesday: Roasted Chicken with Smoked Paprika, Blood Orange, & Ginger, Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Cauliflower and Salad
Wednesday:  Out with my Girlfriends (Ron and Kellen are having pizza)
Thursday: Lasagna Soup , Salad and Garlic Bread
Friday: Pan Seared Pork Chops with Red Wine Thyme Reduction, Roasted Garlic Mashed and Roasted Broccoli
Saturday: Out for Thai (Ron has a cribbage tourney during the day and I am sending cookies!) I am aslo making Kellen Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets for lunch!
Sunday: Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Ale Sauce, Parsley Buttered Red Potatoes and Green Beans

Friday, January 16, 2015

Slowcooker Cheddar Bacon Ale Dip

I am having a good food week. Not like eating healthy good, but good as in I want to make everything I posted and eat it again. 

Remember how I told you that I won my work’s dip contest last week? Well this dip was my winning creation and, speaking of re-making things, I had to make it again so I could share it with you! You have no idea how tickled I am that there is a crock of it sitting in my fridge ready to be destroyed by Ron and I tonight while we watch Cold Justice and play Mario Kart tonight (yep- battle is still going!). 

This dip came together on a whim for me as I was brainstorming what to make for the contest. I was having a craving for strong amber beer and thought what could be a more perfect base? I of course needed to add cheese and bacon because they are the remaining amigos of that trifecta.  There are a few key things to this dip that put it over the top (not that it won’t be delicious if you deviate, but it will be more delicious if you don’t), the type of bacon, flavor or the beer and sharpness of the cheese. I exclusively use Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon in our house. I have tried a lot of different bacons and this is the best. The smoky flavor is amazing and they bacon is nice and thick.  If you do not have Nueske’s available to you I recommend getting a thick and very smoky bacon for this dip.  My favorite amber beer is from Capitol Brewery and I use the Capitol Amber in this recipe. The beer has a bitter flavor and is very smooth. I would use an amber beer (or lighter if you wish) for this recipe, but probably would not use a dark beer. The final part is the cheese. Sharp cheddar is a must to provide the tangy bite of the dip. I like to use Steve’s sharp cheddar freshly grated off the block. I am sure I sound completely picky, but these flavors will provide you with an amazing dip! I also like to serve the dip with pretzel bites. I do not make mine and buy pretzel buns from a bakery and cut them up to serve with the dip. However, if you are feeling ambitious homemade bites would be amazing!

This recipe comes as a perfect post before the play-off games on Sunday! I don’t know about you, but I am pumped for Sunday’s Packer game! However, before Sunday rolls around we are heading to the Dells with a few friends and kids. It is going to be a fun weekend and I can’t wait to relax in the pool, laugh with our friends and play with Kellen. We are staying at The Wilderness and the hotel has a bunch of restaurants and lots of water park activities (even a wave pool!).  I am off today and getting ready for the trip while Ron works and Kellen is at daycare (or “friend’s house” as he call it), and we are leaving as soon as they get home! I am really excited to get away even if it is for a few days…. Our family is always so busy and It is nice to take a weekend to spend time with each other.  

Have a great weekend everyone and Go Pack Go! 


Ingredients

18 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 Tbl Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
8 oz amber beer 
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 lb bacon cooked and chopped - reserve 2 Tbl for topping 
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbl thinly sliced green onion
Pretzel Rolls, cut in bite size pieces


Instructions 

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, mustard, garlic powder till smooth.  Slowly whisk in the beer until smooth. Stir in the grated cheese and chopped bacon.  Spoon the dip into the slow cooker and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 3-4 hours and stir often to make sure the sides do not burn.  In the 30 minutes of cooking, stir in the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time.  Once all the cheese is melted and dip is smooth turn the heat to warm. Top with remaining bacon and onions. Serve with pretzel bites.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Creamy Wild Rice and Sausage Soup

Time for January Improv Cooking Challenge! 

The theme for this month is pork and rice. My mind went a few different ways when deciding what to make: pineapple fried rice, a casserole or a stuffed pepper. I finally decided on making a soup. I don't know about you, but there is nothing better than a big bowl of soup on a cold evening after a long day. I kept this recipe really simple and used a simple seasoned ground pork sausage, chopped veggies, fresh herbs and a bit of cream. I knew I wanted to use fresh thyme, and decided to add a bit of fresh marjoram to the soup because I love the slightly sweet flavor it gives to a dish. This soup was amazing and my entire family gobbled it up. Kellen loves soup and kept telling us "I love this" in between spoonfuls of warm soup. 

Tonight we are headed to Appleton for my friend Amanda's inauguration. We are so proud of her election to the State Assembly and wouldn't miss this for the world! After the inauguration we are heading out for Pho. I know Kellen will be thrilled because he adores Pho and it is so cute to watch him slurp the noodles and drink the broth. I am also hoping that we can get an order of chicken saute- I love the sauce! I am also getting ready for our trip to the Dells this weekend! I am so excited to get away for the evening and enjoy some time with my family and friends! 

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 Coffee and Cream!


Ingredients

1 lb pork sausage
1 onion, diced
5 stalks of celery, sliced thin
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 Tbl fresh minced thyme
1 tsp fresh minced marjoram
1 cup uncooked wild rice
7 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Instruction

In a soup pot, brown sausage over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots to the sausage and cook till tender.  Add herbs and stir. Add stock and rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to bring soup to a slow simmer. Cover and cook till rice is tender (depending on the wild rice blend you use times may differ). 

Remove cover and add cream. Season with salt and pepper and serve.