Thursday, March 5, 2015

Homemade French Onion Dip

Thursday! Which means it is almost Friday and that makes me happy! 

Last night we celebrated Ron’s birthday and had a lovely dinner. We feasted on crab cakes, goat cheese curds (so amazing), steak and flour less chocolate cake (wine too, of course).  We are lucky to have both sets of parents close, and Ron’s parents came up to hang with Kellen while we went out.  Kellen loved having them over and woke up the next day asking (crying) where they were.  Lucky for Kellen we are going to see them on Saturday after go pick up our new car (eek!). 

I few days ago I posted a recipe for DIY onion soup mix and couldn't wait to dig in with a homemade dip. Onion dip is one of those things I always remember my parents having at the house as a kid.  To date, it is still one of my very favorite junky snacks. I loved how my homemade mix tasted in dip form and it was perfect with salty crispy potato chips.  Ron, Kellen and I all loved this dip and it was quickly gobbled up! 

Tonight, I am playing volleyball with a few of my co-workers before heading home for dinner with Kellen and Ron. I love to play volleyball and my schedule hasn't allowed for as much regular play so a pick-up game is always a fun opportunity!  However, I am counting down the hours till we pick up our new car! We decided on a Chevy Traverse and I am thrilled to get an upgrade. I have been driving my Saturn Ion since 2008, before that it was an older Saturn and before that it was a Honda Civic…. I don’t think I will know what to do with all this space! 


Ingredients

16 oz sour cream
1 recipe of DIY Onion Soup Mix or 1 packet store bought
1/2 Tbl chopped parsley, for garnish
Potato Chips 


Instructions

Mix sour cream and onion soup till smooth. Place covered in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove from fridge and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with potato chips. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Salted Nut Roll Bars

Happy birthday to my Ron! 

I made these bars awhile ago, but have been saving them because they are the perfect thing to share for y husband's birthday because it is a homemade version of his favorite candy bar. I originally pinned this recipe from Julie's Eats and Treats, and knew it was a must make. There was a period of time that my husband ate a Salted Nut Roll for breakfast every day. This was of course awhile ago and eating habits have changed, but I still regularly see a candy bar hanging out in his car. 

These bars are absolutely amazing! I brought them to our Dells weekend with our friends and my friend Kayla is also a Salted Nut Roll lover and thought they were delicious. The crust is chewy and gives the perfect texture to these bars to replicate the famous red wrapped treat. My personal favorite part of the bar is the fluffy marshmallow layer. I love marshmallows and the combination of the vanilla crust and roasted peanuts- delicious! 

Tonight, my in-laws are coming to town so Ron and I can grab dinner and a few drinks. We are heading to Bleu at Ron's request and I am looking forward to it because the last time we were there was for restaurant week. We both really liked our food and I looking forward to a fun night together. We are also stopping at The Bar because they give out a mug, glowing sticker and drinks on your birthday. Ron is always mad because he has never had a chance to go on his birthday and said that it was a "must do" this year.  I am just excited that we get to save money on his free drinks.... just kidding. However, I am looking forward to a Spotted Cow on tap! 


Ingredients

1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
3/4 cup melted butter (divided)
3 cup mini marshmallows
12 oz peanut butter chips
1/2 cu[ corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup peanuts halves
2 cup Rice Krispies


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Mix the cake mix, egg and 1/4 cup butter. Press into the greased pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes

Put the marshmallows on top of the hot crust. Return to oven for 3 minutes or until puffed up.
Melt the peanut butter chips, corn syrup and 1/2 cup butter. Stir in the vanilla. Slowly add the peanuts and Rice Krispies, and mix well.

Pour peanut mixture over marshmallows. Refrigerate, but make sure to cut before the bars get too hard because it will be hard to cut them (I cut them after about 35-45 minutes. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

DIY Homemade Onion Soup Mix

Are you a lover of onion soup packets? I know that I am, but I am always a fan of finding ways to recreate these types of things at home.  When I saw the recipe from Queen of the Red Double Wide for the packets I knew I wanted to give it a go. I had a couple recipes on the back burner to try with my new mix, and will share them this week!  

Most of these ingredients are likely sitting in your pantry or spice cabinet at home, and it is great opportunity to use a few of the lesser used spices like celery salt and turmeric. One of my favorite things when opening up on of these bags is the smell. It reminds me of the delicious french onion dip my mom made when we were kids to serve along side potato chips- yum! 

Tonight, I am heading to the gym for a little weightlifting (my favorite) and home to enjoy a little chicken soup from the slow cooker. I have been debating joining another gym with a pool because I am really getting the itch to do some laps in the pool to go along with my weight lifting. I love weightlifting, but I always like to add a bit of variety to my routine.  

Tomorrow is an exciting day..... It's Ron's birthday! We are heading out for dinner and a few drinks, and Mr. Kellen is hanging with his grandparents for dinner and a bit of the evening! 


Ingredients

3 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder


Instructions

Mix all ingredients into a small bowl and store in a resealable bag till ready to use. 

Recipe yields one onion soup packet

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

Tomatoes. Onion. Butter.

Seriously. That is all that is in the sauce. Three ingredients. 

When I first saw this adaptation of Marcela Hazan's sauce posted by Smitten Kitchen I was not sure what to think. I wondered if it would just taste like a lump of warm crushed tomatoes or it the simple ingredients allowed the trio to shine when paired with pasta. In reality, there was really only one way to find out the truth behind this popular sauce!

A few notes on this sauce- this is not a marinara sauce. It does not have herbs, wine, garlic or other additions. The flavors are really clean and highlight the main ingredients- tomatoes.  Another note is to make sure you buy a quality canned tomato. I highly recommend getting San Marzano tomatoes because of their flavor. You certainly can use other canned tomatoes, but your flavors will not be as good.  The butter is also key- don't skimp because the sauce relies on the richness from the butter to fully develop the flavor. 

The sauce comes together very fast and only needs about an hour of cooking time to allow you to crush the tomatoes and leave the sauce to thicken. 

I like to eat this sauce with a hearty and thicker pasta. I am also a cheater and sprinkle a touch of grated Romano cheese on my pasta (shhhhhh...haha). 

I really loved this sauce and made it while Ron was out of town because I knew it would not be his cup of tea, and it was something I knew I would love! The sauce makes enough for about a pound of pasta and this is perfect for lunch leftovers tomorrow!

Tonight, we are headed to dinner with my parents to have an early celebration of Ron's birthday since they will not be around on the official day.  We have not decided where we are going yet, but I am hoping for a steak or pasta..... yum! 

Happy Monday everyone! 


Ingredients

28 oz whole peeled canned tomatoes (San Marzano are recommended)
5 Tbl unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt, to taste
Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese


Instructions

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a medium sized heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Turn heat low and keep the sauce at a slow and low simmer for about 45-60 minutes ( you will notice droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes). Stir the sauce occasionally and crush the tomatoes against the side of the pot. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt if you like. Keep warm while you prepare your pasta of choice. Serve sauce over pasta with a bit of grated cheese. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 3/2 - 3/8

Is the weekend really over!? Say it isn't so..... Sunday is always bittersweet because I know that the work week is almost here and that means less time with my little family. I love my job, but it is so nice to be home with my family and visit with friends. 

On Friday night we made dinner and relaxed. We really did not do too much because Ron had to work on Saturday morning and was getting ready to go to Milwaukee to visit a friend. 

On Saturday morning I made french toast for Kellen and I, and had a little help from my sous chef (pants on the head are needed for true kitchen magic)!


Later, I met my friend Kayla and kids at Badger Bouncers. Badger Bouncers is essentially a big playland for kids with a bunch of the inflatable bouncy house.  Kellen was not sold on the bouncy house at first and was a littler nervous to go inside. There were some tears, but he eventually felt comfortable to jump all around with his friends. 



After bouncing, we headed out for burgers and custard at a local restaurant. The kids were thrilled that their meals came in cars! 


After lunch, I headed to Appleton to drop Kellen and Ron's parents for an overnight and he was thrilled to find his cousin was over for a visit and to play with him. I visited for a bit before heading home to get ready for dinner with my friend Amanda. We went to one of my favorite places- Plae Bistro and out for martinis.  We joked that we are becoming old ladies because the clock hit 11 and we started to turn into pumpkins! Amanda and I have been friends since working on a Congressional campaign and then House of Representatives together- the rest is history! 

On Sunday, I met my friend Kayla for brunch and then did a bit of shopping and recipe development/cooking before Ron and Kellen got home. I have a few fun recipes for Pi Day to share next week with all of you! Poor Kellen was a little tired when he got home and the evening was .... we will call it "challenging", but once dinner came things settled down and we all got to relax and play before bedtime. 

This week is busy, but we have lots of fun stuff on the agenda. A few dinners out, volleyball, weightlifting and Ron's birthday!  We are also picking up our new car this week- I am so excited! We are taking the plunge and getting a larger vehicle and have decided on a Chevy Traverse... I have driven a Civic and a Saturn and this will be a BIG, but welcome change. 

Have a great week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday:  Out with my Parents
Tuesday: Slowcooker Chicken Noodle Soup and Rolls
Wednesday: Happy Birthday Ron! We are having dinner at Bleu
Thursday: White Chicken Chili (In the slowcooker)
Friday:  Junk Yard Special, Potato Wedges and Roasted Green Beans
Saturday: Out for Thai
Sunday: Salisbury Steak w/ Mushroom-Onion Gravy , Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes and Peas

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cheesy Pork Chop and Potato Casserole

Thursday is normally the traditional throwback day and a change to get a little nostalgic, but we are going to have a little #FBF today.  I think everyone my age had pork chop casserole at some point during their childhood. I have a co-worker who makes a pork chop casserole often and it got me thinking about making my own variation on this retro family recipe. I make my own cream of chicken soup for recipes like this, but canned works if that is what you have on hand. I also prefer cheddar cheese, but if you like something else by all means go to town. This recipe is really easy and something you can put together ahead of time during a busy week and pop in the oven at dinner time. My favorite part of the casserole? The onions in the hashbrowns and on top of the casserole...so good. I do not make my own, but if you are so inclined you certainly could do it. One note of preparing early: add the onions on top before it goes in the oven so they do not get soggy- no one wants a soggy semi crispy onion.

My family loves this recipe and Kellen's love of all things pork has moved into pork chops. This recipe also makes fantastic leftover for the following day. I made this recipe with 4 pork chops since they were larger and had a bit of potatoes left. I loved this because I ate them for breakfast with my egg the following morning- yum! 

I am so happy that is is Friday....long week... I am also excited because my Kayla and I are taking the kids to an bouncy type place tomorrow morning. In reality I am just excited to jump around..... In the evening my friend Amanda is coming to town to grab dinner and drinks at Plae Bistro (my favorite!). 

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend! 


Ingredients

4-6 pork chops (depending on thickness/size and how many you are feeding)
1 tsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 oz French's Fried Onion
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2/3 cup milk
1 package of frozen hashbrowns, thawed
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3 oz French's Fried Onion


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish withe lightly greasing with cooking spray. 

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Brown pork chops on both sides to get a nice crust and sear (about 2 minutes per side).  

While the pork chops are cooking, mix soup, sour cream, garlic powder, pepper, 3 oz onions (a regular container is 6 oz), 2/3 cup cheese and milk in a large mixing bowl. Once combined, mix in the hashbrowns and spread into the prepared baking dish. Nestle pork chops on top of the hashbrowns. Top with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and finish with 3 oz of onions. 

Bake for 45-60 minutes or until pork is cooked. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Ale Sauce

I have another amazing pork tenderloin recipe on the menu today! I have cracked out a few different recipes over the past few months, but this might be my favorite one. I love mustard in sauces and decided to give it a try with beer. I could not just use any beer and opted for one of my favorite types- amber ale. I opted add a shallots and a bit of cream as well. The result was a velvety sauce rich in dijon flavor with a slight bitterness from the amber ale paired with marinated and seared pork- amazing!  This gives me a serious hankering for a mustard sauce…. This recipe is super easy and quick for a nice weeknight meal. Kellen loves pork tenderloin and this was right up his ally of favorite things. 

Speaking of Kellen- his first swim class went awesome! The instructor even commented on how well he could kick his legs in the water and he was brave enough to jump off the side (with help from Grandma of course). I am really hoping that this enjoyment continues because it is so nice for him to have something he could do year round (and that we both really enjoy).  

Tonight we are headed to dinner with Ron’s family to celebrate birthdays. We have a few bunch of birthdays close together and we opt to grab dinner together in February and May to celebrate. It is always a lot of fun and I am excited to see the family! I am also excited for a nice big glass of cabernet as well- yummy! After dinner we will come home and relax and watch the first episode from the new season of Survivor! I am a big Survivor fan and Ron is just starting to jump on the bandwagon after watching last season.  The concept of white collar, blue collar and no collar interests me and I think the dynamic will be interesting (especially when they merg).  




Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1/2 cup amber ale
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Three sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Tbl olive oil
1/8 cup Dijon mustard 
1 cup amber ale 
1 pint heavy cream 
1 shallot, minced


Instructions

In a medium bowl, whisk Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbl mustard, 1/2 cup amber ale, 1/8 cup olive oil, thyme springs and salt. Place pork tenderloin in a resealable bag and pour inthe the marinate tossing to coat. Place pork in the fridge and allow it to marinate for at least 8 hours (you can do less, but flavor will be better the longer you marinate). 

Remove pork from marinate and heat 1 Tbl olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven safe skillet. Brown pork tenderloin on all sides.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the pork registers 155-160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil to keep warm, and rest for while you prepare the sauce (about 10 min).

Add the shallots to the same pan used to roast the pork. Saute over medium heat for about a minute. Add the beer and scrape the cooked bits from the skillet. Whisk in the cream and dijon. Allow the sauce to slightly simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes (the sauce should be thick enough to heavily coat a spoon). 

Slice pork tenderloin and spoon sauce over the top. Serve immediately.