Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tex Mex Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Today I am bringing you another winner from my slowcooker.  I originally bookmarked these Tex Mex Pulled Pork Sandwiches from So Tasty, So Yummy when she posted them in August, and can't believe that it has taken this long for me to get them on our dinner table!  I loved the combination of juicy flavorful pork, spicy cheese and creamy avocado sounded too good to pass up! 

I made these on a night my friend Emily was coming over to watch Law and Order for us to munch on as we enjoyed our show (I still miss Elliot Stabler!).  I have to say that these sandwiches are nothing short of amazing. The pork is so flavorful and the flavors of the cheese and avocado are work perfectly in the sandwich.  The sandwiches make fantastic leftovers and I looked forward to the leftovers as lunch time rolled around. 

Tonight I have a little candy making and card sending on my agenda. Ron is finishing school this week and has a bit of school work before graduation on Friday. Tonight I also need to get cracking on my portion of the dinner menu for my family Christmas on Saturday. I really can't believe that the holidays are almost here, but love this time of year.  Kellen and I watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas for the first time last night.  My kid can be so stinking cute sometimes.... he loved the movie, and yelled "Mr. Grinch!" every time the Grinch came onto the screen.   He is a little young for my all time favorite Christmas/Halloween movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas- next year.  I love Jack Skellington and you may remember Kellen wearing Jack Skellington hat the majority of the the fall before I left it at a restaurant (sob). I also find myself singing "making Christmas, making Christmas!" around our house.  

Maybe I will scrap all my plans and watch that tonight with a glass of wine..... 


Ingredients

for pork:
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp  pepper
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 pork shoulder roast
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 cup of beer

for avocado crema:
2 avocados, diced
3 Tbl  sour cream
juice from one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp chili powder

8 bolillo rolls (or comparable variety)
Queso (I used spicy jarred variety)


Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix together salsa, beer, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray and layer the onions over the bottom. Add pork to the crockpot and pour salsa mixture over the top.  Cook on low for 10 to 12 hours. Shred the pork with two forks and return to the crockpot for 30-60 minutes before serving. Using a food processor (you could do this by hand or with a hand mixer as well) process the avocado, sour cream, lime juice, chili powder and salt until smooth. Spread the avocado crema on the bolillo roll, followed by the shredded pork and topped with queso. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 12/15 - 12/21

Happy Monday!

This weekend went by sooooo fast, and with the holidays in full swing I know that slowing down will not be an option anytime soon.  On Friday, I finished prepping for Kellen's party and grabbed dinner with my dad before coming for to relax with Ron and Kellen. 

Saturday was Kellen's party and since I prepped a lot the night before (and the help of my mom) there was not too much to do.  I decided on a farm theme for Kellen's party, and we had lots of great treats for our guests.  I had a hot dog bar including all the traditional toppings plus some homemade chili. 

Shovels and Forks? 

Watering Hole, Farm Fresh Eggs, Vegetable Garden, Dairy Barn and Hay Flakes!

Tractor Wheels and Cheese, Farm Fresh Peas and Horse Treats!

The whole spread!

My birthday boy is a chocolate fan and celebrated with a chocolate cake (the little smash cake is in the background)!

Happy Birthday Kellen!

Even big boys like little toys!

Saturday night we relaxed with pizza and played with new toys. On Sunday we watched the Packer game (boo hiss) before heading home. I did a little baking and started organizing my gifts to wrap. I also need to get my Christmas cards in the mail this week..... This photo of Kellen pretty much summarizes the end of my weekend....


This week I am finishing wrapping, sending holiday cards, baking and a little last minute shopping.  I also have a cookie exchange with a few girlfriends on Wednesday- I am bringing the Mint Hot Cocoa Cookies I just posted.  This weekend Ron graduates!!!!!!! We are going to the ceremony and then grabbing some dinner afterwards. The following day it is our holiday celebration with my family and I always get excited to see our family and have fun!  We have a busy week ahead of us, but I love this time of year and Kellen makes our holiday so much fun. 

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday:  Creamy Taco Mac and Salad
Tuesday: Crockpot Pork and Olives, Rice and Green Beans
Wednesday: Cookie Swap with my Girlfriends - I am bringing a Pesto Bacon Bread
Thursday: Porcupine Meatballs in a Tomato Red Wine Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Peas
Friday: Out for Ron's Graduation
Saturday: Ramaker Family Christmas
Sunday: Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mint Hot Cocoa Cookies

Welcome to the Secret Recipe Club 2014 Cookie Carnival!


Members of the Secret Recipe Club are assigned a blogger each month to make a recipe from their site.  During the holidays, we skip a month of posting and many of us wanted to do something fun and festive! When the idea of a cookie carnival came about I thought it sounded like a blast! I do not have a ton of cookie recipes on my blog, but I thought it would a great opportunity to try something new.  I was assigned the blog PaleYellow. I was very pleased to be able to choose one of her recipes because she is not part of my normal Secret Recipe Club group (we are divided into 4 posting groups), and it was fun to check out all the new recipes. Pale Yellow has a large assortment of beautiful baked goods and it was so hard to pick just one for the carnival!  I finally decided on Mint Hot Cocoa Cookies- perfect for the holidays (however her recipe for Shortbread Dipped in Chocolate and Peanut Butter sound to die for!). 

The cookies were absolutely delicious and as noted by the original post they are not the prettiest cookies, but they sure are delicious! I am doing a cookie exchange with a few girlfriends on Wednesday, and am bringing these babies with me- I know my friends will love them. 

Holiday baking and candy making are one of my favorite things to do this time of year and this was such a fun round-up with fellow bloggers to get into the holiday season. Also, what a more perfect way to get a ton of great recipes all in one place!? 


Ingredients

10 Tbl unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tbl cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
3/4 cup mini dried marshmallows + extra for topping
1 cup peppermint bits (I used the red and white peppermint morsels)


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 and line three cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, and salt. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar.  Next, beat in the vanilla and egg.

 Add flour mixture to the creamed butter on low speed, and mix until just combined.  Beat in the chocolate chips, dried marshmallows, and peppermint bits.

Spoon a 2-tablespoon scoop to portion the dough on to the cookie sheet.  Add dried marshmallows on top.
Bake for 10 minutes until just done.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Yields 30 cookies. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Roasted Garlic Risotto

Happy Friday! 

I am really looking forward to this weekend for a few reasons- Kellen's birthday party and the Packer game!  Kellen's party is tomorrow and I have lots to do before show time.  I will have some photos and details on the party/birthday fun in my weekly meal plan, but I can say that it is a farm theme with a hot dog bar and there will be mac and cheese!  

I made this risotto and served it with my antipasto stuffed chicken earlier this week. I love roasting garlic and it is normal to find a few sticks of roasted garlic butter in my freezer. I also love making different risottos and this risotto was absolutely delicious! The garlic flavor was just subtle enough, but still allowed the hearty flavor to come through. I kept this recipe simple and added a small amount of shallots, a bit of wine and a little fresh parsley. To me, this is a perfect side because it not the "same old same old", but is versatile enough to pair with any dish. 

Tonight is going to be a bit or a whirlwind, but I think we might try to squeeze in fish at a local bar before I start decorating and cooking. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 


Ingredients

2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl butter
1 shallot, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 medium-large garlic bulb (about 8 good sized cloves)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Chopped Italian parsley


Instructions

roasted garlic:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. slice the garlic at the stem, and wrap it in aluminum foil with a drizzle of olive oil on  top of it. Wrap it up and roast for 30 minutes. Cool and squeeze out garlic cloves. 

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

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots; cook 1-2 minutes minutes. Stir in rice, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium and add 1/2 cup wine; 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. Mashed the roasted garlic cloves and add them to the rice with last portion of stock is added. Stir to break apart the cloves and evenly cook in the risotto.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Antipasto Stuffed Chicken

My sweet baby is 2 today (technically at 5:55 pm). He came into the world at almost 10 1/2 pounds, and has been my gentle giant ever since.  I can't believe that time has gone by so fast. Ron and I love him more and more each day, and so enjoy growing with him. He is smart, funny and adorable. Kellen has a strong personality and has a kind heart. He loves animals, dinosaurs (he knows many of the names), Elmo, trains, Packers, reading, being outside and playing with his friends. I am so excited for what his future brings, but am relishing in the present while he is my baby.  Tonight, we are celebrating with dinner at Noodles & Co. and ice cream with his friends. On Saturday, we are celebrating his birthday (we are going with a farm theme!) with family and more friends. 

I decided to share this recipe for Kellen's birthday  because it has a few foods that he really enjoys. Chicken, olives, tomatoes and cheese. Also, antipasto was one of my favorite things to enjoy when I was in Italy a few years ago. The original recipe is from Cooking Canuck, but I made a few modifications to the recipe to match our tastes. I kept the filling recipe the same, but bulked it up a bit. I also wrapped the chicken in prosciutto, and baked it over pan frying. The result was absolutely fantastic. The prosciutto was crisp, chicken juicy and filling was cheesy and briney.  I served this meal with roasted garlic risotto (recipe to come tomorrow), and it was so delicious. The chicken is beautiful and certain to impress, but quick enough for a weeknight meal. 


Ingredients

1 Tbl minced Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely diced fresh tomatoes
One clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup kalmata olives, minced
Four slices provolone cheese (4 oz), cut into small pieces
Two small canned artichoke hearts, finely chopped
4 chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
8 slices prosciutto 


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, gently mix parsley, tomatoes, olives, garlic, artichokes and cheese together. Place the chicken breast on your work surface and insert your knife into the thickest part of each chicken breast and cut a pocket 3 to 4 inches long. Season chicken with salt and pepper (go easy because of the olives and prosciutto). Stuff the chicken breast with 1/4 of the stuffing. Next, gently wrap the chicken with 2 slices of prosciutto making sure to cover the filling pocket. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts and place filling side up in the baking dish.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until juices run clear and prosciutto is crisp. I like to serve this is risotto and fresh green salad. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Crockpot Creamy Italian Chicken Over Egg Noodles

Happy hump day!

This is a meal that I found on Pinterest from a few different sources and is one of those recipes that everyone seems to have a variation of. I loved how comforting and nostalgic the creamy chicken was when paired with the buttered egg noodles.  Kellen and I both loved the meal, but Ron was not overly impressed. I also loved that is made fantastic leftovers for work the following day.  Next time I may add a few veggies to the dish for a little texture, but was overall very happy with the meal.  The flavors from the Italian seasoning added a nice zesty flavor to the chicken. 

This week is flying by and tomorrow my baby turns 2! I can’t believe how fast time has gone and wish there was a way to slow down. I love watching him learn and grow, but it all seems so fast.

Yesterday we finished getting the decorations on our Christmas tree and general holiday decor around the house. Kellen was a sweet helper and handed me ornaments  and directed me to different free branches for each one.  He got bored after about 20 minutes and tore around the house in his Santa hat yelling “ho ho ho!”, but that was equally adorable.  Tonight, Ron is working at the lab and my friend Emily is coming over for our Law and Order: SVU fix. I found a test on Buzzfeed yesterday to determine which Law and Order SVU ADA I was. Fantastic. In case you are wondering I am Rafael Barba and my friend Emily was Alex Cabot. If you do not know who these people are I think it is high time that you sit down and let yourself fall victim to an SVU marathon.

As I mentioned tomorrow is Kellen’s birthday. Sniff. He is going to daycare and told me that he wants to “see friends”.  I am putting together a little treat for him to bring and share with his class. After daycare we are meeting friends for pasta and ice cream- another two of his favorites. 


Ingredients

1 1/2 lb chicken breasts
One envelope Italian dressing mix
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups chicken stock
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
1 lb wide egg noodles
2 Tbl salted butter


Instructions

Lightly spray inside of slowcooker with cooking spray. Place chicken in the bottom to the slowcooker. Evenly sprinkle Italian mix, pepper and garlic powder over the chicken. In a medium bowl mix soup with chicken stock. Pour over chicken. Cook on low 7-8 hours. Remove chicken and shred into large pieces. Return to slowcooker and add cream cheese. Allow chicken to continue cooking, while periodically stirring, for an additional 30 minutes. After you add the cream cheese cook the noodles. Drain and return to pot. Add butter and gently stir. Serve cchicken over egg noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 12/8 - 12/14

Happy Monday- I am a little late this week! 

We had a busy weekend, but it was full of fun things and that makes everything better!  On Friday, we had an adults only night and we to dinner with friends. The restaurant we originally were going to was closed so we went to a new Mexican place and had fantastic guacamole including a table side preparation! I saw a friend at the restaurant and joked that you know you have kids when you are excited to go home and watch recorded American Horror Story episodes you haven't watched yet.... By the way, the episode was totally freaky and a few unexpected twists! 

On Saturday morning we headed to Ron's parents's house for cookie making. Ron's family has made peppernuts (or pfeffernusse) for a long time and this year Kellen got to participate in the family tradition. Kellen helped me arrange the cookies on the sheet- it was so cute!

Kellen also sampled his first peppernut ever! Ron's family loves these cookies and I am not a fan, but I was not surprised when sweet Kellen asked for more after his first bite! He was a natural!

After cookies, we headed to lunch and then home for the evening. On Sunday, I headed back to Appleton for Ron's cousin's baby shower! It was so cute and so fun to celebrate her little boy.  After the shower I stopped to visit a good friend before heading home to pick up my mom, Kellen and Ron for dinner. We went to Grazie's and it is always a family favorite- Kellen loves the spaghetti.  After dinner we met my dad and headed to the Botanical Gardens for the Festival of Lights. We piled into a horse draw wagon and rode around the grounds to see all the beautiful light displays. Kellen was so excited and loved looking at the lights! During the ride he would yell out to his favorite shapes and colors. We headed home after the lights to warm up and go to bed. Kellen hit the pillow hard, Ron watched football and I worked on a few blog posts. Like I said, it was a busy, but fun weekend! 

This week my baby boy is turning two! I do not know time could fly so fast, or that I could love him more and more each day. I am going to leave birthday dinner up to him (he will probably was one of three things: Nicky's, pizza or mac & cheese), but we are celebrating his birthday this weekend with family and a few friends! I wish there was a pause button on him..... 

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole and Salad
Tuesday: Antipasto Stuffed Chicken and Roasted Garlic Risotto
Wednesday: TexMex Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Potato Wedges
Thursday: Happy Birthday Kellen! Out for Dinner.....TBA
Friday: Out
Saturday: Kellen's Birthday Party and
Sunday: Gyros and Salad