Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ten of 2011

What a fantastic year it has been! I can only hope that 2012 is just as wonderful. We had much to be thankful for this year.  Our wedding, a new special kitty join our family, a new home, a brand new niece getting ready to make her debut in January....the list is long.

I wanted to share our favorite recipes from 2011 for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy the final days of 2011!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
This was a fantastic slow cooker meal, and tasted just like our favorite restaurant.

Bloody Mary Steak with Horseradish & White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
I made this dish for the Crazy Cooking Challenge and loved the steak! Anytime I can have a bloody mary I am a happy girl!

Ina's Seafood Stew
This was a recipe from the recipe swap I participate in. We are making it again on New Year's Eve.

  Grilled Salmon with Lemon Summer Vegetable Risotto   
Perfect grilled meal at the height of summer vegetable season.                  

Taco Burger   
Taco in a bun. Delicious.                 

3 Cheese Skillet Mac and Cheese
Creamy, dreamy & rich comfort food at its finest.

Chicken Mole Enchiladas
I am a sucker for a good mole, and I loved how easy this recipe was.

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Ron's favorite comfort food. It is hard to go wrong with potatoes, ham, and cheese.

Cuban Burger
A twist on my all time favorite sandwich.

Tilapia with Peppers, Olives, and Capers
A recipe inspired from one of my favorite local restaurants.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recipe Swap: Hoisin Braised Short Ribs

Time for another Recipe Swap! The theme for this swap is Special Occasions. I submitted a recipe for grilled ribeye steak with caramelized onion and blue cheese sauce....yummy.... In return, I received Hoisin Braised Short Ribs from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations. I had never cooked short ribs before and was pleased to try something new. This recipe takes a little while, but it is well worth it. 

My Dad took a nasty fall on the ice today and while trying to salt the driveway (ironic, i know). We came over with this dish for dinner and gathered with him to watch Monday night football. My entire family (even my 3 year old nephew) loved this dish. It is wonderful, and the meat melts in your mouth. It was a nice meal for my parents after a very stressful day filled with ambulances and x-rays.

I followed the suggestion to serve the ribs with mashed potatoes, and it was delicious with the sauce! A perfect comfort meal! Check out the other swappers at A Taste of Homecooking, and thank you Mary Ellen for a delicious recipe!

3 lbs boneless beef short ribs (we used bone-in-about 2-3 ribs per person)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 c peeled and chopped carrots
1 c chopped celery
1/4 c tomato paste
1 c dry red wine
2 c beef stock or low sodium beef broth
1 1/2 c hoisin sauce
1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c fresh orange juice
2 c water
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh time, a few sprigs reserved


Pat the short ribs dry and season with salt and pepper.

In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium high heat. Sear the short ribs to brown them on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side, and then remove them from the pan. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pot. Add the onions, carrots, celery and saute until caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes. Push aside the onion mixture, add the tomato paste, and brown for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the onion mixture, add the red wine, and stir to scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Reduce the sauce until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the beef stock, hoisin, brown sugar, orange juice, water, thyme leaves, and bring to a simmer.

Put the ribs back in the pot, cover, and transfer to the oven. Braise the ribs until they are very tender, about 3 hours, checking the pot and stirring every hour.

Transfer the ribs to a platter and keep warm. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then reheat the sauce.
To serve, divide the short ribs among 4 dinner plates. Top with the sauce and garnish with the thyme sprigs.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Roasted Duck with Wild Rice & Sausage Stuffing

What a wonderful holiday! It makes me sad that it is over. This meal was our Christmas Eve dinner. Last year we had duck, and liked it so much it is becoming a Christmas Eve tradition. Last year, I focused on rosemary, orange, and onion. This year I tried a wild rice stuffing at my mom's request. Our 2011 duck was fantastic (even better than the previous year). This recipe is so delicious, and very easy. I didn't get a chance to get a picture before we carved the duck, so please excuse the platter picture! We served our duck with wild rice stuffing, and Van Abel's green beans. Perfect beginning to a Christmas celebration. I hope everyone had a beautiful holiday.

2 6-7 lb ducks
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
3/4 lb mild italian sausage
2 golden delicious apples, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 white onion, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 oz pecan pieces
2 Tbl fresh thyme
2 Tbl italian parsley
1 tsp black pepper
salt & pepper for ducks
2 medium roasting pans, or 1 large (for ducks)

Cook wild rice according to package instructions and set aside.

Remove duck from refrigerator. Allow duck to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. With a fork, prick the skin without piercing the meat. This will allow the fat to drain off while the ducks cook.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large rimmed skillet, brown sausage till it is completely cooked. Add apple, celery, and onion. Cook till tender (about 10  minutes).  Add wine, herbs, and pepper. Continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes. Gently fold rice into sausage mixture and remove from heat. Allow stuffing to cool.

Stuff the ducks equally with the wild rice stuffing and place in the roasting pan. Salt and pepper the outside of the ducks. Place duck in the oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees (about 2-2 1/2 hours) basting with the drippings every 30 minutes. Allow the duck to rest for for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!!

Happy Holidays to everyone! Wishing you a healthy & happy Christmas! Thank you continuing to support my blog and influence us with your thoughts and creativity! We wish happiness, good food, and great memories to everyone!

Ashley & Ron (and the cats too!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crockpot BBQ Dr Pepper Pork

Ron's family came to watch the Packer game with us last week, and I wanted to make something yummy in the crockpot. I didn't want to do a normal BBQ pork (even thought it is awesome), and we happened to have some Dr Pepper in the house. This recipe came together very easily, and you really can't go wrong with a set it and forget it recipe when company is coming. I loved the flavors of this pork. It is not too saucy, but has wonderful flavors. Perfect for a Sunday game day....and NO I do not want to talk about the game last night... We also had a wonderful family Christmas with our extended family this weekend, I love the holidays!Have a wonderful week!
4 lb pork shoulder roast
1 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (we use Stubb's)
1 1/2 can Dr Pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin

Rub roast with seasonings and place in crockpot. Pour BBQ sauce over roast, and top with Dr Pepper. Set crockpot to low and cook 7-8 hours. Between the 7th and 8th hour, remove roast and shred. Place meat back in crockpot. Allow pork to cook for an additional 30 minutes. Top with additional BBQ if you prefer a sandwich with extra sauce.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recipe Swap: Candy Cane Fudge

Time for a new swap! The theme for this swap is cookies/treats. I submitted my peanut butter cups, and received this Candy Cane Fudge from Jenna. As I have said before, I am not a big fudge fan. but you never know what is going to tickle your fancy. I love candy canes and was excited to make this treat. This recipe is really simple and easy to put together compared to some of the fudge recipes out there (candy thermometers!!! Eeekkk!!).  The recipe calls for red or green food coloring to be stirred in, but I decided to do a swirl and thought it turned out really pretty. Alas, I am just not a fudge person. I found it a little too sweet for my taste, but I know my sister will love it (she loves white chocolate and peppermint).  I am always happy to try something new and love the festive colors! Thank you Jenna for this sweet holiday treat! Next month is "special occasion" and I can't wait to see what I get!
2 (10 ounce) packages vanilla baking chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups crushed candy canes
1 dash red or green food coloring (for swirling)

Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, and grease the foil (I used Pam).

Combine the vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until almost melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth. When chips are completely melted, stir in the peppermint extract, and candy canes. Add drops of food coloring and use a toothpick to swirl.

Spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill for 2 hours, then cut into squares.

Gluten Free Baked Eggnog French Toast with Cranberries and White Chocolate

Time for another Improv Cooking Challenge! The theme for December is Eggnog and Cranberry. I thought a lot about what to make and wanted to try something new. I developed this recipe while trying to make bread pudding. I never made bread pudding and wanted to give it a try, however I thought this was closer to french toast. I really liked the flavors of this dish, and was very happy with how it came out. This makes a great breakfast dish, or you can have it as a late night dessert like Ron and I did.

So excited about the holidays! My sister and I made some candy last weekend (mostly the usual- a few new I will post) and that always helps get me in the mood for Christmas.

Check out my Improv recipe next month for a new combo! To sign up, visit Kristen at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.
6 cups cubed gluten free bread (16 oz loaf-we use brown rice)
1 pt eggnog
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbl maple syrup
2/3 cup cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbl butter

Pre heat oven to 375 and grease an 8X8 baking dish with butter.

Place bread in a large bowl and set aside.

Whisk eggnog, syrup, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger in a medium mix bowl. Pour over bread and mix. Allow the bread to sit and absorb the liquid for 45 minutes stirring every 5-10 minutes.

Layer 1/2 the bread mixture into the baking dish. Next, layer 1/2 cranberries, 1/2 sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate chips. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Bake in the over for 50 minutes. Allow casserole to rest for 15 minutes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crockpot Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Ohhhh...My weakness.... I love spinach and artichoke dip. In my opinion, the cheesier and gooier (?) the better! I made this for a work party and it fits in my mini crockpot (a little bigger than the "little dipper") perfectly. It went over very well with my co-workers, and my favorite part is that it is mayo free. In warm dips I really do not like the taste of mayo.... something about hot mayo makes me a little green. This is a great dip, and it super easy to put together. Perfect for your next PACKER party..he he..

12 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper

In a large bowl mix all ingredients together. Pour into your crock pot and heat on low until warm and gooey. Easier than pie!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pizza Tot Casserole

It's Sunday, and that means it is Packer day!!!!!!!! I love the Packers. One awesome thing about the Packers, there are many, is that they are owned by the people. Years ago my Grandparents owned stock and when they passed away it was given to the kids and grandchildren. It makes me so happy to see that hanging on my wall, and know we own a small piece of history. Today my in-laws are coming for the game, and we are taking the kids to the Green Bay Botanical Garden for a light show after the game. Perfect Sunday in my opinion.

This is a dish I cam up with when I was in a pinch for dinner one weekday evening. It is super tastey and makes great leftovers for the work week. You can use any toppings you like depending on your pizza preferences.

Have a fabulous Sunday! Go Pack Go!!

1 1/4 lb lean ground beef
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
2/3 cup chopped turkey pepperoni
4 1/2 oz slices black olives
1 14.5 oz pizza sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
3 Tbl reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 Tbl pizza seasoning (or italian seasoning)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
32 oz bag of tater tots


Pre-heat over to 350 degrees, and grease a 9X13 casserole dish with Pam.

Brown beef with onions and peppers in a large rimmed skillet.  Drain, and add pizza seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add tomatoes and olives. Stir in cream cheese till evenly mixed. Add pizza sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour beef into casserole dish. Top with pepperoni, then cheese, then tater tots. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until sides are hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crazy Cooking Challenge: Phat Cow Fudge

Time for another Crazy Cooking Challenge!

The theme for this month is Fudge! I am not a big fudge eater (that silly chocolate thing), but I always love to try something new. I usually let Ron take charge of the fudge around the holidays because he has a great recipe from this Grandmother. However, I wanted to try something new and see if my fudge making skills were up to par. This is a recipe from Jenn at Eat Cake For Dinner. I have to say the name was the first thing that caught my eye because who wouldn't chuckle about Phat Cow fudge? It was just what I was looking for- easy and unique. I love how it looks like a spotted cow! This recipe is so yummy! The fudge melts in your mouth and is so creamy. Perfect addition to a holiday fudge arsenal. Please remember to vote below and check out the other fudge recipes!

Phat Cow Fudge
recipe from Jenn at Eat Cake For Dinner

20 oz Hershey's milk chocolate bars, broken into pieces
1 (12 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. (2 cubes) butter, cut into pieces- No substitutes
4 c. sugar
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 1/2 c. mini marshmallows
4 c. frozen mini marshmallows
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Lb. walnuts, chopped, opt.

Place four cups of mini marshmallows into the freezer.  In a large bowl, prepare  broken milk chocolate bars, chocolate chips and butter pieces; set aside.  In a large pan, combine sugar, evaporated milk and 2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows.  Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly, then, continue to cook and stir at a light boil for 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate/butter mixture.  With a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted and loses its shine (Don't worry if it looks separated, just keep stirring).  Stir in the vanilla.  Add the frozen marshmallows and walnuts.  Spread into a buttered cookie sheet.  Cool completely.  Cut into pieces and serve.  Store in an airtight plastic container (can be stored for about two weeks).   

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

This morning I had every intention of getting up early and putting together this dish so all Ron had to do was plug in the crockpot. Then I forgot. Oops.... So it was Ron's task to get this dish ready for dinner. Ron is a great cook, but usually lets me do the cooking because I enjoy it so much. However, today was his moment to shine, and boy did he shine! I found this recipe at Food With Your Family and knew we had to try it. This dish is a staple when we go to an Indian restaurant.  Ron did an amazing job putting this dish together, and said it was very easy. Props to you honey- you can cook for me anytime. I can't wait for leftovers tomorrow because this is my new favorite crockpot dish! 

For the chicken:
9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (we used 4 chicken breasts- about 1 1/4 lb)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup yogurt
4 tablespoons butter

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large piece of ginger (2-3 inches in size), peeled and grated
3 tablespoons garam masala
4 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon raw sugar (or granulated white sugar)
1 whole jalapeno, washed, stem removed and pierced several times with a sharp knife
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and 1 teaspoon salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover lightly and let sit for 10 minutes before proceeding.
Melt 1 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and quickly brown about 1/4 of the chicken. Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished, using 1 tablespoon of butter per batch, and repeat until the chicken is all in the slow-cooker.
Return the pan to the heat and melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and the 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges.
Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before raising the heat to high and adding the crushed tomatoes and raw sugar. Stir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. Pour over the chicken in the slow-cooker and add the jalapeno pepper.
Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.
Use a fork or whisk to stir the cornstarch or cleargel with cream. Add to crockpot.
Serve over hot rice

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recipe Swap: Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

The theme for this recipe swap is Thanksgiving Deserts. My family usually goes a little lighter with desserts and I submitted lemon curd and meringue.  I received Triple Chocolate Cheesecake from Coleen at Does Not Cook Well With Others (Love the name). I was very pleased to be challenged with a new recipe out of my comfort zone. Truth be told: A) I have never made anything resembling a cheesecake, B) I really don't like cheesecake, and C) I really don't like chocolate. However, my husband loves cheesecake, especially chocolate cheesecake.  I was a little intimidated by this recipe because it has a lot of steps, but after carefully reading Coleen's instructions I dove into the recipe.  Luckily, I was able to find gluten free oreos so Ron was excited that he could enjoy it without feeling sick! Even though I only had one bite of my husband's cheesecake (and licked a knife), this recipe is really delicious. Ron's exact words were "Ashley, this is to die for".  I brought the cheesecake to my in-laws Thanksgiving, and then the other half to my parents house. Each location gave it two thumbs up. This recipe does take sometime so make sure to allow yourself enough time for all the components! If you give this a try, and didn't know a lot about baking a cheesecake, make sure you read the tips about the water bath and checking for doneness. If you are a cheesecake lover you will not be disappointed, and if you aren't you will appreciate the one of two bites like me. Thank you Coleen for making me try something new and pushing me out of my comfort zone!
Triple Chocolate Cheesecake
recipe by Coleen at Does Not Bake Well With Others

18 Oreo cookies
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4 (8 oz) bricks of cream cheese, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz milk chocolate bar, melted and cooled
4 oz white chocolate bar, melted and cooled
4 oz semisweet chocolate bar, melted and cooled
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz semisweet chocolate bar, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the Oreo cookies in a gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag, and crush finely with a rolling pin. Pour in melted butter, and mix until crumbs are coated. Press into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in two layers of aluminum foil.
  3. Beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Gradually beat in sugar. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated and scraping the bowl in between each addition. Beat in the cream.
  4. Divide batter evenly among three bowls. Stir melted milk chocolate into the first bowl, white chocolate into the second, and semisweet chocolate into the third.
  5. Pour milk chocolate batter onto the prepared crust and spread evenly. Carefully pour white chocolate batter on top, and spread evenly, being careful not to mix the batters. Repeat with the semisweet chocolate.
  6. Place in a boiling water bath (see previous entries on cheesecakes for instructions) and bake for one hour. Check for doneness (see tips on how to know when your cheesecake is done). If necessary, continue baking until cheesecake is set, but still jiggles in the middle. When it reaches this point, turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour.
  7. Cover in tin foil and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  8. Prepare the glaze: Scald the heavy cream. Place chopped chocolate in a bowl, and pour hot cream over it. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Pour over the cheesecake, tilting to coat it evenly, then chill the cheesecake for fifteen minutes

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

BBBRRRRRR........ Baby it's cold outside! I was freezing on my way home from work today and couldn't wait to put together this soup. I never made baked potato soup before, but since I Ron and I love potatoes- why not give it a try? This was a really simple dinner to put together, and it tasted wonderful. I didn't use heavy cream or cheese (except for a little on top!) so this soup is a little lighter than something from a restaurant.  You can use whatever toppings you like, but we stuck to the traditional bacon, sour cream, cheese, and  sliced green onion. Perfect soup to warm you up on a cold winter night- besides a cute husband.
3 1/2 cups chopped gold potatoes
1 medium white onion, diced
1/4 cup flour (we use gluten free)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup reduced fat milk
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

chopped bacon
sliced green onion
sour cream
shredded sharp cheddar

Place potatoes in a microwavable dish and cook till tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and thyme, and saute till tender. Add four and stir to coat. Slowly add stock, stirring to evenly mix. Add milk and allow mixture to simmer and thicken 2-3 minutes stirring constantly.

Add half potatoes to soup pot, and blend with an immersion blender. If you do not have an immersion blender use a blender, or add all potatoes for a chunkier soup. When blending is complete, add remaining potatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot with toppings of your choice.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Van Abel's Green Beans

One of my favorite supper club restaurants is Van Abel's in Holland (just outside Green Bay). They have the most delicious chicken, and serve these fantastic green beans. We have been going to Van Abel's since I was a baby, and these were always my favorite. My sister and I literally go just for the beans. My Grandmother had the green bean recipe and we loved when we got to have them for dinner. I have made adjustments to the recipe (I don't even think we have it on paper anymore), and still love to make this for my family. It is a dish that brings back great memories for family dinners when my Grandparents were still alive. These were a great hit (as always) on our Thanksgiving table!

1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and kitchen cut
5 slices bacon, diced
2/3 cup mayo (we use reduced fat)
2 Tbl white vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 Tbl black pepper

Steam green beans in the microwave or stove top. Drain and set aside.

In a large rimmed skillet, cook bacon till crisp. Over medium heat, add green beans and mix. Allow green beans and bacon to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add mayo and mix to coat evenly. Stir in vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and allow green beans to cook for 5 minutes. Serve.

Cabernet Cranberry Sauce

Happy Day after Thanksgiving! We had a fantastic holiday filled with family, friends, love, football, wine, food, and a sewer that backed up into our basement 10 minutes before we needed to leave the house. Thankfully, we were able to get someone over the snake the drain and save the day! My husband was so great and stayed behind for a bit and I am sure it was not how he thought his holiday would go. Everything is fixed and we can be happy it wasn't worse!

I thought I would share a few dishes I made for the feast. I stumbled upon this recipe trying to find a new cranberry recipe for dinner. Usually the cranberries are ignored, but I was determined to find something unique that would become a happy addition to our dinner table. This recipe is fabulous. I love the Cabernet flavor (my sister and I call this booze berries) with the orange and the addition of spicy white pepper. I think my goal of a awesome cranberry dish was successful because everyone raved about the flavor!

A must try for your holiday table.

Cabernet Cranberry Sauce
adapted from The Kitchen is My Playground
1 (12 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. Cabernet Sauvignon*
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp white pepper

Bring sugar and wine to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add remaining ingredients, and return to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes, or until cranberry skins have popped.  Remove and discard cinnamon stick.  Cool slightly.  Serve warm or chill at least 2 hours.  Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Sauce may be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

*Note - Use good quality wine.  It makes a difference in this recipe! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pork Chops with Apple Cider Gravy & Sweet Potato Swirl

 This meal screams cozy fall meal to me. I had a jug of local apple cider in my fridge and wanted to get creative with a pan gravy. I love the taste of pork and apples, and thought an apple cider gravy would be perfect. I paired it with a swirl of regular mashed and curry sweet potatoes. It was so delicious- a perfect fall meal. Ron and I both loved the sweet flavors of the gravy and sweet potatoes next to the savory pork chops.

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! Fall went too fast this year!

Right now I have a triple chocolate cheesecake in the fridge for next weeks recipe swap, and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Pork Chops with Apple Cider Gravy
4 boneless pork chops
1/2 cup Apple Cider
1 cup chicken stock
3 Tbl flour (gluten free)
3 Tbl butter
1 Tbl olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium heat in a pan. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Pan fry chops in olive oil till cooked to desired temperature. Remove from pan and set aside.  In the same pan, over medium heat, melt butter.  When butter is melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk constantly until just browned.  Gradually add chicken stock and apple cider. Whisk until gravy is smooth and at desired thickness. Serve over pork chops and potatoes.

Swirled Sweet Potatoes
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 Tbl butter, divided
1 Tbl salt, divided
1 Tbl pepper, divided
2 Tbl cream cheese
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup milk, divided

Boil potatoes in separate pots until completely cooked. Drain and set in separate bowls. Add 1 1/2 Tbl butter to each bowl, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 Tbl salt, 1/2 Tbl pepper to each bowl. To the russet potatoes, add cream cheese, and to the sweet potatoes add curry powder.

Using a potato masher or electric mixer, mash potatoes till smooth. Scrape the sides of the russet mashed potato bowl, and gently add pour in the sweet potatoes. Using the end of a wooden spoon, gently swirl the potatoes together so they are mixed, but the individual colors are showing.

Serve with Pork Chops and  Apple Cider Gravy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Long Winter Molasses Cookies

I love molasses cookies. Thin, chewy, spicy, and rich. I found this recipe on Jenna's blog Eat, Live, Run and knew it was perfect.  I don't have a lot of cookie recipes on my blog (mostly because I am not a great baker), but my goal is to try and get more cookie and baking recipes. I have become more comfortable with gluten free baking over the past year and excited to try out new recipes. This recipe is super easy and turned out delicious. I accidentally put my cookies a little close together  on the baking sheet, so excuse to odd shapes!

We are getting ready for the Packer game in Green Bay, and simmering up some yummy bean soup.
Have a great day!

Long Winter Molasses Cookies
adapted from Eat, Live, Run

2 cups all purpose flour (we use gluten free)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4th tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 stick + 4 T melted butter

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, white pepper, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, egg and molasses. Stir well to combine.
Add dry ingredients to wet and stir to form a sticky dough. Wrap in wax paper and chill in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out on a flour surface and punching with either cookie cutters or a glass.
Bake cookies on a lined sheet tray at 375 for eight minutes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Improv Cooking Challenge: Heath Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake

This month I started participating in the Improv Cooking Challenge hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. The challenge is a monthly party where everyone takes the same two assigned ingredients and lets their imaginations run wild.  It doesn't matter what other ingredients we use, whether we make something savory or sweet. This months ingredients are pumpkin and cream cheese. I wanted to try and find something different than a pumpkin roll or pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting. I came across this recipe at Sugarmonkey Sweets.  I added crushed heath bars and adapted the recipe to create a gluten free version. All I can say is yum, yum, yum, and yum. The cake is dense and rich, but the blend of spices remind me of fall. Ron absolutly loved the cake (he is and easy judge- he loves anything with sugar).  Join the party and check out my fellow bloggers below! Also, stay tuned for next month: cranberry and eggnog!

Heath Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake
Adapted from Let's Dish & Sugarmonkey Sweets

6 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 can pumpkin  - 15 oz
1/4 cup water
1 cup crushed Heath Toffee Bars

2 cups gluten free baking mix (we use Pamela's)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.
Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until incorporated and smooth. Add the eggs, pumpkin and water. Slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are mixed well. Spread about 2/3 of the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle Heath evenly over batter

Cream Cheese Swirl:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 large egg

Using a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar together. Add the vanilla and egg, mixing until smooth. Scoop out the cream cheese mixture on top of the pumpkin mixture and heath bar. Smooth the cream cheese layer out a little bit before adding the remaining pumpkin mixture on top of the cream cheese layer. Then use a knife or spatula to swirl the mixture together. Bake for 30 minutes or until middle is set. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recipe Swap: Dutch Oven Beef and Noodle Casserole

The theme for this recipe swap is one pot meals. I received Dutch Oven Beef and Noodle Casserole from Rachel of Fall In Love.  I submitted my recipe for Scalloped Potatoes and Ham- excited to see who had it! After reading the Rachel's review and the recipe ingredients it seemed to be a pretty easy meal, but I was a little bummed I didn't receive something a bit more challenging or different. As expected, the dish was a breeze to put together. I added garlic, cumin, and a little hot sauce to "beef" up the dish after reading Rachel's critiques of the original recipe.  However, I was a bit disappointed with the flavor- it fell a bit flat for me. I love the concept of the one pot meal, but I am not sure that this one will come back to the dinner table. I am excited to see what the other bloggers worked with their swap dishes!

On another note, we are moved into the new house! Feels good to finally be home!

Dutch Oven Beef and Noodle Casserole
 Whole Foods Recipes/ Fall In Love

1 pound extra lean ground beef
2 cups frozen corn
2/3 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 (10- to 12-ounce) package gluten free noodles
2 cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Heat a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Add corn, mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, hot sauce, and salt & pepper and stir well. Spread uncooked noodles evenly over the top, then sprinkle cheese over noodles. Pour the can of tomatoes, with their juice, over the cheese and noodles. Tightly cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 1 hour. Uncover pot, set aside for 5 minutes then serve.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Creamy Chicken Corn and Rice Casserole

Can you tell we are cleaning out the cabinets and freezer??? Tomorrow is the big moving day for us. The new furniture and appliances (a double oven!!) went in without a hitch. I can't wait till we get settled. I may not be able to post till next week depending on the internet situation (I made sure to schedule this one!).

This is somewhat of a throw together weeknight meal. After digging around in the pantry trying to use the food we have I came to the conclusion that casserole was for dinner! This recipe turned out really well and was packed with cheesy chicken flavor. I wanted to use broccoli, but all we had was corn and peas. Being a good girl, I followed the no store rule and was pleasantly surprised.  I have a feeling that different variations of this casserole will hit out table again!

1-1 1/4 lb chicken breasts
3 cups cooked brown rice
6 oz frozen corn
6 oz frozen peas
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 cup chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/8 cup reduced fat mayo
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup flour (we use gluten free)
2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp butter
salt and pepper to taste


Pre heat over to 350 degrees.

Boil chicken breasts until they are tender and completely cooked. Remove from water and shred. Set aside. In a large rimmed skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions and allow them to cook until onions are translucent. While onions are cooking mix rice, sour cream, and mayo in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Add stock, milk, garlic, and veggies to skillet. Allow mixture to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and stir to incorporate all ingredients. Sprinkle with flour and stir and the sauce thickens.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheese. Remove skillet from heat and fold into rice.

Spray 9X9 (you can use larger, but be sure to adjust cooking time) with cooking spray. Pour chicken and rice into baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until casserole is hot and bubbly.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roast Beef with Onion Gravy

I have been keeping this roast recipe on my radar since Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking posted it. It looked delicious and perfect for a Sunday dinner. I love the simplicity of the recipe and I was sure it was going to make great leftovers for my work lunches.

As I thought the recipe was easy to follow and tasted great! I loved the onion gravy over the top of the roast.Another plus, you literally need two dishes (I guess 3 if you count the cutting board), and easy clean-up equals a happy husband since he gets dish duty when make the meal. I think I come out on the better side of that deal.
Roast Beef with Onion Gravy
from sarah at a taste of home cooking

1 (3 1/2-4-lb) beef roast
Salt and pepper
1 packet onion soup mix
3 cups cold water, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all sides of the roast. Place roast on a rack set in a roasting pan and put in the oven.

Dissolve the onion soup mix with 3 cups of cold water (doesn’t completely dissolve) and add it to the bottom of the pan with the roast 15 minutes after putting it in the oven. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Baste the roast with the mixture as it cooks, about every half hour. For medium the roast will take about 2-2 1/2 hours. Add water to the bottom of the roasting pan, as needed so the drippings and soup mix don't dry out and burn.

When the roast is done, take the remaining drippings and pour into a small pot and bring to boil, adding water as needed to make the amount of gravy you want. Combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until cornstarch is dissolved, then add to the gravy until it thickens.

Serve the gravy on the side, with the sliced beef, veggies and mashed potatoes

Monday, November 7, 2011

Crazy Cooking Challenge: Bloody Mary Steak with Horseradish & White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

The theme for this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge is Mashed Potatoes!! Yummy yummy yummy... I was really excited to create a dish around my favorite side!

My potato recipe was inspired by The Piggly-Wiggly.  I knew I wanted to make a bloody mary inspired steak, and horseradish mashed potatoes were the best way to finish my dish. Piggly-Wiggly is a great blog with a variety of different recipes to tantalize your taste buds.

The steak was something I had brewing in my little head for awhile now, bu it needed the perfect dinner setting. We made these bad boys the day before Halloween. Nothing like a creepy meal and a scary movie (Halloween for us!) to get you excited for the holiday.

Check out the other challenge recipes by joining the blog hop below!

Bloody Mary Steaks
2 lb beef tenderloin (cut into individual steaks)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 white onion, diced
2 Tbl slice green olives
3 Tbl chopped pickles
1 Tbl pickle juice
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl hot sauce
5.5 oz tomato juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbl celery salt
1/2 tsp dill seed
Mushroom Topping (recipe below)

Mix all ingredients besides steak and topping in a large bowl. Place steaks in a large ziplock bag and pour in marinate. Allow steak to marinate 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Flip the bag at the half way point.

Pre-heat grill. Remove steaks from bag and discard marinate.  Grill steaks over medium heat until the reach desired temperature.

Top with mushrooms and serve with horseradish & white cheddar mashed potatoes.

Mushroom Topping
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 white onion, sliced
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl butter
pinch of salt
dash of pepper

Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms. reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to cook for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Horseradish & White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
adapted from Piggly-Wiggly
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 Tbl prepared horseradish
3/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar
       2/3 cup milk
   3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
            1 tsp black pepper
        1 Tbl salt

Place large pot of water on stove and bring to boil. Add potatoes. When potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, drain water and move to a mixing bowl. Add milk, butter, cream cheese, horseradish, cheese salt, and pepper. Mix with electronic mixer or by hand with a masher (my personal favorite).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Italian Sausage Lasagna with Pumpkin, Blue Cheese and Sage

I love cooking new combinations of food for my family to try. I had some leftover blue cheese from my sweet potato coins and decided I needed to make something savory, yummy, and gooey. I also had a can of pumpkin puree... I could hardly wait to try this as I was putting this recipe together and trust me it did not disappoint!  Ron is not a big pumpkin fan so I wanted to make sure I had a few other savory flavors that would compliment the rich pumpkin. The result- awesomeness!

We are getting ready to do the big clean this weekend and finally get moved into our new home. I can't wait to get out of our cramped apartment!

10 oz lasagna noodles (we use gluten free)
2 shallots
2 lb mild Italian sausage
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 cup ricotta
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh sage
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 Tbl flour (we use gluten free)
2/3 cup blue cheese, divided
2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

In a large rimmed skillet, cook sausage, sage, and shallots. When sausage is browned add tomatoes and chicken stock. Allow mixture to come to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over sausage and stir. Allow sausage to simmer on low for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat once sauce has thickened.

While sausage is simmering cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. While noodles are cooking mix ricotta, egg, sour cream, pumpkin, 1/3 cup blue cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a 9X13 baking dish add a few scoops of sauce to the bottom of the dish using a spoon to coat. Lay down 1/3 of noodles, spread 1/3 pumpkin mixture,  add 1/3 of the mushrooms, layer 1/3 of the meat sauce, and top with 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat twice more. Sprinkle remaining blue cheese on the final layer.

Bake, covered, for 60 minutes. Allow the lasagna to rest, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recipe Swap: Sweet Potato Coins with Blue Cheese and Bacon

The theme for this recipe swap was Thanksgiving sides- oh the possibilities! I submitted the recipe for burgundy mushrooms, and I received this recipe from Jessica at The Jey of Cooking.  I love sweet potatoes and was excited to test this recipe out on my family. I made a few modifications to the original recipe by adding blue cheese, bacon, and green onion. The great thing about this recipe is you can add any toppings you want, or keep it simple and serve them straight up. Checkout my fellow swappers at A Taste of Home Cooking! Thank you for the great recipe Jessica!

We closed on the house last night! Official homeowners!!! Let the moving begin!

Sweet Potato Coins with Blue Cheese, Bacon, and Green Onion
adapted from The Jey of Cooking

2 sweet potatoes
2 oranges (for juice)
1 Tbl brown sugar
5 slices center cut bacon, cooked and chopped
4 1/4 Tbl redued fat sour cream
1 1/2 Tbl blue cheese
2 Tbl sliced green onions
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with Pam and set aside.

Juice oranges into a medium bowl. Mix in brown sugar and set aside. Cut sweet potatoes into thick rounds and toss with orange juice and sugar. Remove from bowl and place on baking sheet. Seasoning with black pepper. Bake for one hour, flipping half way through. 

Remove from oven and transfer to a serving dish. Allow potatoes to cool for 5 minutes. While potatoes are cooling, mix sour cream and blue cheese in a small bowl. Gently spoon sour cream mixture onto potatoes (I used my nephew's baby spoon).  Top with bacon and green onion.