Friday, April 29, 2016

Quick Vegetable Soup #BookClubCookBookCC

I am back to #BookClubCookBookCC after taking a little time to enjoy my new sweet little boy (things are going great)!  Sarah of Things I Make for Dinner invited us to read Girl with a Pearl Earringand make Griet's Vegetable Soup.

A little background if you don't remember my kick off post in July, a group bloggers organized by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla (click the link if you want to join the fun!) draw inspiration from a book and recipes published in The Book Club Cookbook which was provided to bloggers by Judy, Vicki, and their publisher, Tarcher-Penguin. Each month, a blogger selected a book and The Book Club Cookbook offers several suggested recipes or the blogger can create a recipe inspired by the story.  At the end of the month the host or hostess posts a round-up and gives away a copy of the book. 

Here are a list of my fellow participating bloggers/hosts:

Cheese Curd In Paradise               
Life on Food       
The Pajama Chef              
The Spiffy Cookie             
Things I Make (for Dinner)           
Tortillas and Honey         

Even if you are not part of the blogs listed above, any blogger can join in our fun! Like I mentioned before we read Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I was excited to see this selection because I have read the book a few times and was excited to re-visit the story. The story features a young girl named Griet. Griet's family is hampered by her father's inability to work due to an accident and Griet begins to work for the painter Vermeer as a maid. There is a part of the story that inspires the recipe when Griet is chopping vegetable for a soup and Vermeer notices that she has arranged them by color. Being an artistic man he is taken by this and Griet works for him. Griet and Vermeer's relationship grows and she eventually becomes a model for him to paint. The story has many twists and turmoil for the protagonist from other character and from her own emotions while trying to figure out how she fits into Vermeer's world. 

I opted to make a vegetable soup, but used a quick and simple weeknight recipe that my family would love (and that we can get on the table quickly on a weeknight). This veggie heavy soup was filled with colorful veggies, just like the book, and was a big hit with my husband and 3 year old. The other thing I loved about this soup is that it freezes well and that was a blessing for quick lunches now that my second baby boy is here. My 3 year old love veggies and especially liked identifying all of the different favorites in his bowl. 

There are only a few more months left of the our book club challenge! Keep entering for a chance to win and tune in next month to see what recipes are in store! 


1/2 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 Tbl olive oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbl tomato paste
4 cup vegetable stock or chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup frozen corn 
1/2 cup frozen green beans 
1/2 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper


In a soup pot, heat oil and add onion, celery and carrots. Saute till veggies start to become tender and onions are translucent. Add potatoes and tomato paste and stir till coated well. Add stock or broth (depending on what you use) followed by tomatoes, corn, beans, and peas. Allow soup to come to a low simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until all veggies are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread.


This month Sarah at Thing I Make (for Dinner), this month's host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from April 1st till April 30th at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

*Disclosure: Sarah received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Baby Boy #2 is Here!

Introducing Rowan Hayes Lecker! 

Rowan was born on 4/2/16 at 7:44 AM. He came in at a whopping 11 lbs 8 oz and 23 inches long! His brother was about 10 1/2 lbs and was the same length....big boys! We were actually shocked by how big he was considering he only came 4 days late and there was no gestational diabetes. Makes me nervous if we have another one- these boys like to keep their mother on her toes. 

Rowan had a few oxygen and breathing issues and his journey started off a little rough and he was in the NICU for 11 days, but is now healthy and home with his family. He is so sweet and such a big cuddle bug.

I will write up his birth story in a bit, but for now I am just enjoying my time with my sweet boy. 

Here are a few snaps of our sweet boy:


Going home!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Taco Rice Bake

No baby boy yet in case you were wondering!  I am convinced that he wants to show up his brother..... Today is my last day at work till after my maternity leave and that is bittersweet! I love my job, but it has gotten a bit difficult for me over the past few weeks with the sitting/standing. I am certainly feeling ready for this little man to come! I have a BPP scheduled as part of my 41 weeks appointment next week, but we will see if we make it till then!

These days easy meals are my best friend and this recipe from Plain Chicken caught my eye because I knew Ron and Kellen would both love it. Taco night is a big hit at our house and it is nice to switch things up a bit with one of our favorite flavors. This recipe called for ranch style beans and I had never heard of the before and was worried that I would not find them. However, they were right by the baked beans in a can with a black label at my grocery store. This recipe comes together nice and fast is delicious! We added out favorite taco topping to our plates and it was perfect for our taco loving family. 

This week my cousin and her daughter were in town and Kellen has been enjoying spending extra time at Grandma's to play with his cousins. The rest of the week is still up in the air.... I feel like I keep saying that, but it really depends when our little guy makes his appearance. This weekend we are set to have a late Easter celebration with Ron's family because his sister was out of town on Sunday- it is fun to get a chance to do it twice! I know Kellen will be excited to play with him cousins. 

Have you been watching Walking Dead?!  I will not spoil it, but don't believe them after the Glen trickery..... this last cliffhanger will need proof! Ron and I have also been enjoying Survivor. I have always loved the show and Ron had been getting into the last two seasons. Strangely enough, I haven't picked a favorite yet, but I and thinking that once they merge people tend to stand out a little more. 

Have a great week everyone!


1 1/2 cups uncooked white or brown rice 
1 -1 1/4 lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 can ranch style beans
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 package taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
2 cups grated sharp cheddar, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tomatoes, olives, sour cream and chopped cilantro, for garnish


Follow cooking instructions for rice on package. While rice is cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Brown beef and onions in a large skillet and drain grease when meat is cooked. Add beans, tomatoes, soup, taco seasoning and water. Stir and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Add cooked rice and 1 cup cheddar cheese to the beef mixture. Pour beef and rice into the baking dish. Top with remaining cheddar cheese. 

Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven, plate and top with desired taco toppings. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 3/28 - 4/3

Happy Monday!

Baby boy has not decided to join us yet, but I am still plugging away and waiting for his arrival. Tomorrow is my official due date so he is not even "late" yet!  I think I have heard that second babies come sooner about 100 times and since Kellen was born at almost 43 weeks this little boy still has some time to spare by that calculation! However, his mother would love sooner than later!

This weekend was so much fun! On Friday, we opted to get take-out and relaxed at home. On Saturday, Kellen and I headed to my parents house to color Easter eggs before turning them into deviled eggs on Sunday. 

The eggs were lovely and we grabbed lunch after before heading home so Kellen could get a little shut eye.  Later in the evening, we grabbed subs and relaxed at home (life is pretty exciting these days!). 

On Sunday, we were up early to see if the bunny came for a visit and enjoys a few sweets for breakfast!

Later, I headed to my parents to start a few things for dinner. Kellen came with so he could nap there as everything was prepared. We had a quick lunch of homemade egg rolls from a friend and I got working on the ham and potatoes. Our menu included: smoked ham in the slow cooker, scalloped potatoes, grilled asparagus, deviled eggs, green salad and homemade bread. We also had a delicious carrot cake for dessert! My in-laws joined us for dinner and everyone has a wonderful time with good food and conversation!

This little guy was proud of his Easter shirt:

We watched some basketball after dinner and headed home shortly after- such a fun day. I was exhausted after cooking, but was able to sit a relax once we got home! 

This week is completely up in the air depending on baby boy. My cousin and her daughter are coming for a visit from Chicago this afternoon and will stay till Wednesday. We have swim tonight and are stopping at my parents for dinner afterwards. My weekly menu looks are bit out of the ordinary, but I don't want to buy a bunch of food to have it sit in the fridge.... many nights might be flying by the seat of our pants! I tried to plan easy menus that could go in the freezer if need be like burgers & brats and a casserole because I can put the ingredients in the freezer easily for when we get home. 

Wish us luck this week! Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad and Bread
Tuesday: Due Date! Out for Pizza!
Wednesday: Tater Tot Casserole and Green Beans
Thursday: Grilled Burgers and Brats, Beans and Cottage Cheese
Friday: Out for Fish
Saturday: Easter with Leckers
Sunday: Grilled BBQ Chicken, Mac and Cheese and Peas

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Crock Pot Swedish Meatballs

This recipe from Real Mom Kitchen for  Crock Pot Swedish Meatballs  jumped out at me.  First, it was an easy recipe and second it was for one of my favorite comfort foods: Swedish meatballs. I have made a few different recipes for Swedish meatballs on this blog and each one had a different preparation method. You see, my grandmother was Swedish and hr mother came to the United States as a teenager. Swedish meals were very traditional and common during holidays growing up, and my family always adores our family recipe for Swedish meatballs. I haven't posted it on here because I never really feel like it is mine to giveaway. However, I can tell you it is different than most of the recipes I see circulating and allows the meatballs to rest in the gravy overnight before baking in the oven before yummy. On a side note, I recently saw Lutesfisk in the frozen section of my grocery store.... That was one of my least favorite things as a kid and am not sure I even want to know how the frozen variety is. 

This recipe is not very traditional, but it is delicious, easy and kid approved. In my house those are all important factors! I used a frozen meatball in my recipe, but you certainly could use a homemade frozen meatball and have delicious results. I opted to serve our meatballs over egg noodles and topped with a bit of freshly chopped parsley and everyone gobbled their portions down. 

Today we are in for a big snow storm- possible 12 inches! It is the end of March! Even living in Wisconsin a large snowfall like this one is not the norm....not the norm at all.... It is also a full moon and maybe that, paired with the storm, will kick me into labor and we will be having a baby tomorrow night! I can always hope right?  I was planning to watch SVU with my friend Emily, but I think we will have to put that on hold and hunker down at home! 

All is going well on the baby front. Nothing new to report now besides some Braxton-Hicks (this has been going on since 32 weeks so nothing new), but as many of you know that can change quickly especially since it is our second one! I have been sleeping pretty well and that makes me very thankful, but I keep getting leg cramps! Ugh! I am taking a little extra magnesium and getting a bit more calcium and potassium to help. They have improved, but are a not so fun pregnancy side effect! 

Hope everyone is having a great week- if you are in the snow belt good luck today!


1 (10¾ oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1¾ cups beef broth
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
2 Tbsp A-1 steak sauce
1 (2 lb) bag frozen meatballs
1 cup light sour cream
1 (16 oz) package egg noodles
2 Tbl butter, optional
Chopped fresh parsley


In a crock pot, combine the soup, beef broth, onion soup, and steak sauce. Next, mix in the frozen meatballs and coat well.

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 5 hours.

Just before meatballs are done, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and toss with butter, if desired. 

Before serving, add the sour cream to the mixture and stir until combined. Serve meatballs over the cooked egg noodles and sprinkle shopped parsley over the top.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 3/21 - 3/27

Happy Monday!

We had a seriously fun weekend and I am bummed it is Monday again! 

On Friday, we relaxed, had a late dinner after Kellen went to bed, and watched basketball. It was so nice to do noooooottthhhhiiinnnggg.....

On Saturday, Kellen, my sister, my nephew, and I went to the Festival Foods Bunny Hop for treats and to meet the Easter bunny. The kids had a blast and my sister and I loved that they gave out healthy snacks like carrots over tons of candy! There was cookie decorating too and that was a nice treat for the boys. 

After Festival, we headed out for pizza with my parents at one of our favorite places. Afterwards, we went to the Railroad Museum for the Bunny Train. We had not been planning to go, but decided last minute and had a really great time. We went at 1 and it seemed to be an off time and it was a lot of fun to do the egg hunt without it being super busy! We also got to see our friend the Easter Bunny again! 

Ron was at a cribbage tournament during the day and missed the fun, but he was home later and we grilled brats for dinner. 

On Sunday, we were up early to do a few things around the house and head to Appleton for a baptism lunch for Ron's goddaughter's little boy. It was so fun to see everyone especially since it is so close to our due date. We were given offers to bring Easter up to our hospital room if we are there over Easter, but assured that was not needed. It will be more important to make sure Kellen is feeling special and loved, especially if his parents aren't there.  After lunch, we headed home for a quick nap before heading to my friend Kayla's house for her little girl's 1st birthday celebration! It was so fun and the kids had a blast playing and having cake. They have an awesome little toy from The Good Dinosaur and Kellen had a little trouble sharing what was not his! He is really into that movie right now and I feel like we talk about Arlo and Spot often! After the party Kellen and I did a little shopping before heading home to relax.  After Kellen went to bed we watched the Badger game- the buzzer shot at the end was awesome! Go Badgers! 

This week swim is having their spring break and we are just working around the house and waiting for Baby. I don't have too much planned for us in the next week or so just because we don't know what our days will look like! We are ready and excited for our new little family member anytime! I am still feeling good, but the end always gets a little more uncomfortable- especially sitting at work! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chili and Rice Noodles w/ Eggs Rolls
Tuesday: Taco Rice Bake and Salad
Wednesday: Out
Thursday: Slowcooker Shredded Turkey Sandwiches and Fruit
Friday: Grilled Rosemary Ranch Pork Chops, Grilled Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus
Saturday: Out for Pizza
Sunday: Easter

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Creamy Tomato Basil Risotto

Welcome to the March Crazy Ingredients Challenge!

This month's challenge is not too crazy, but involved two very delicious ingredients: Tomatoes and Cream. I have sat out the last few challenges just because like got busy. When you are pregnant many crazy combos sound good, but sometimes it sounded a little too much for me! However, I love the combination of tomatoes and cream and decided that a creamy rich tomato basil risotto was where it was at for me! I love risottos and have many different variations on my blog, but this recipe really takes the cake for me. I normally do not add cream to my risotto, but it added a delicious and rich component to my risotto. Add in the tomatoes and fresh basil and it was a winner. 

I served this risotto with these delicious Roasted Parmesan Shrimp and a big salad. The combination was delicious and I can't wait to make it again! 

I am closing the weekend still in the end stretch of pregnancy and still feeling good. I am slowing down a lot, but am enjoying the our last moments as a family of three! 

Enjoy the risotto and check out the blog hop below! Don't forget to check out next month's crazy ingredients!


1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 1/4 cup rice 
1/2 cup dry white wine 
4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream 
1/2 petite diced tomatoes
2 Tbl tomato sauce
1 Tbl fresh chopped basil
2 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese
Salt, optional 


Place stock in a medium saucepan. Bring  to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low-medium heat.

In a large rimmed skillet heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute.

 Stir in rice, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine and cook about 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Continue by adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next. With the last portion of stock, stir in the heavy cream, tomatoes, tomato sauce and basil. Cook till absorbed and slightly thickened. 

Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Season with salt if desired.