Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bling Bling!!!!!!

Suprise! Suprise! I had to sneak one more post in to share this awesome news with you! Ron and I are getting married! We are so excited and can't wait for the big day! Counting down the days till August 6, 2011.

Grape Salad

I love grape salad. A few weeks ago we grilled out with Ron's family and I brought this dish for a desert/side. I remembered having it at my cousin Debbie's baby shower a few years ago, and love how wonderfully simple it is. If you are not a nut person (sans allergy) I would give it a try. The salty sweet combo of the brown sugar and nuts is delicious with the creamy dressing and plump grapes. A perfect dish for your Memorial Day cookout! We are heading to Door County today and meeting friends on Sunday to go to Celebrate De Pere for Sarah Evans and walking tacos (Ron's favorite!). Enjoy and have a great weekend!
4 cups green grapes
4 cups red grapes
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 Tbl brown sugar

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until smooth (I use a hand mixer).  Gently fold grapes into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon into a large serving dish. Allow grapes to chill n the fridge for about an hour before you serve it (this can be kept n the fridge for up to a day before serving).  Just before you serve the salad, mix the pecans and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle pecan mixture over your salad and serve.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops with Blackberry Pinot Noir Sauce

I love blackberries. There is something so irresistible about a bowl full of juicy ripe berries. I also feel that way about a glass of wine. I wonder if that is a bad thing? Probably not. Anyways, I stumbled upon this recipe in an old issue of Cuisine At Home. I think other people have been reading their old recipe magazines that they refuse to throw away because I have seen similar recipes popping up in the blog world. I made a few different additions and tweaks to this recipe, and did it turn out great! I love the sauce, and even went back to spoon a bit more on my chop. This is a wonderful easy, yet impressive, dish for your summer barbecue. Enjoy!

Grilled Pork Chops with Blackberry Pinot Noir Sauce
adapted from Cuisine At Home

4 boneless pork chops
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup pinot nor
1 cup fresh blackberries, divided
1 tsp sugar

Place pork chops on a plate and season with salt and black pepper.

Add onion, butter, salt, pepper, thyme , and chicken stock to a sauce pan and simmer 6-8 minutes. Add wine, 3/4 cup blackberries, and sugar. Simmer gently 35 minutes. 

When the sauce has about fifteen minutes left to simmer, heat grill and cook the pork chops 5-6 minutes per side (this can be adjusted to the thickness of the chop). Remove chops from heat and cover.

Quickly return to the sauce, place sauce in a blender, or use an immersion blender, and blend until sauce is smooth. Add the sauce back to the pan and add the reserved blackberries. Uncover pork chops and spoon the warm sauce over.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Happy Hump Day! Each week I try to get a dinner request from Ron so I can put something on the table that is "tacky to his taste", as my Mom would say. Last week Ron requested scalloped potatoes and ham. I recently purchased a new cookbook from Taste of Home, and asked him to pick a recipe and buy the ingredients. He did hit the nail on the head with his pick! This recipe was delicious! I was originally wanted to make the traditional style, sans cheese (the horror, the horror!), but this was awesome. A perfect comfort dish to go with the raining days in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Enjoy!
Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Recipe by Taste of Home: The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook

4 Tbl butter
4 tsp all purpose flour (we use gluten free)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Dash of cajun seasoning
1 cup 2% milk
3 tsp chicken stock
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
5 cups thinly sliced red potatoes
2 cups cooked ham
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion

In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning until smooth. Gradually add milk, chicken stock, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 1/2-2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place half of the potatoes sliced in a greased (I used PAM) backing dish (I used a large round corningwear). Layer with ham, onion, and half of the white sauce. Repeat layers. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and fifteen minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.

Serves 4-5

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Meringue Nests with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

Looking for a sweet treat the isn't heavy and rich? That is just what my Mom requested for her Mother's Day dinner. This desert is a perfect way to end an evening meal, or to enjoy on your patio on a warm summer night with a glass of vino. This is a really easy recipe, but does take a bit of time so be sure to set aside a few hours if it makes it to your menu. Another bonus is eating any leftover lemon curd the next day. The lemon curd recipe is easy and delicious, but I recommend using a little extra lemon juice if you prefer a tarter flavor. Enjoy!

Meringue Nests
recipe by

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Beat the egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.

Drop meringue into eight mounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Shape into 3-in. cups with the back of a spoon. Or, place meringue mixture in pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe meringue onto parchment paper to form eight 3-in. cups.

Bake at 275° for 45-50 minutes or until set and dry. Turn off oven and do not open door; leave meringues in oven for 1 hour. Fill with lemon curd and fruit. Yield: 8 servings.

Lemon Curd
recipe by

3 large eggs
3/4 cup  granulated white sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
4 Tbl unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbl finely shredded lemon zest

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for up to a week.
Makes 1 1/2 cups

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Seared Tuna with Sundried Tomato and Black Olive Tapenade

To me, tuna has a wonderful texture. It also goes so great with so many different sauces and seasonings. I found this recipe on the Food Network site, and was intrigued by the different flavors. The original recipe called for green olives and garlic. I switched things up with eliminating the garlic, adding black olives, and a little feta cheese. Delicious! I served this to my mom on Mother's Day and she loved it. Enjoy!

Seared Tuna with Sundried Tomato and Black Olive Tapenade
Recipe Adapted from Joey Altman, Food Network

4 8 oz ahi tuna steaks, bloodline removed
Black Pepper
Lemon zest
Olive Oil
Sundried Tomato and Black Olive Tapenade
Feta cheese

1 cup marinated sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup pitted black olives 
Juice of 2 lemons 
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Puree all ingredients in a food processor, and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet, add  2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium-high. Rub tuna with salt, pepper, and lemon zest  Cook the tuna steaks on each side for just 3 to 5 minutes (you may want to cook a little longer depending on the thickness of the tuna, keeping the fish medium rare. Remove tuna from skillet, top with tapenade and feta.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Salmon Cakes with Lemon Caper Yogurt

Ron and I love crab cake. Unfortunately, we don't order them when we go out because most of the time they contain bread crumbs. A few nights ago I was craving crab cakes, but there was no crab in sight. However, there was salmon. These are really easy to put together and cook up in no time for a quick a delicious dinner. I like them right on top of a salad, but you could do any side that tickles your fancy. Happy Mother's Day to everyone especially my mother! Enjoy!
Salmon Cakes
1/2 green bell pepper, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
1/2 cup onion, minced
12 oz cooked salmon, flaked and chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
2/3 cup gluten free bread crumbs
4 oz greek yogurt

makes 6 cakes

Lemon Caper Yogurt
3 oz greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp capers
1 Tbl chopped fresh dill
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

Assemble to lemon caper yogurt. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate for about a half hour before you are ready to serve.

Pour olive oil into a large rimmed skillet. The oil should come about 1/4-1/2 inch on the sides of the skillet. Turn heat to medium-high.

While oil is warming mix all salmon cake ingredients together stirring gently till all are incorporated. Test the oil is a small pinch of salmon cake. The oil is ready when it sizzles around the sides of the food. Fry two salmon cakes at a time, and flip after 2 minutes. Place finished cakes on a plate lined with paper towel. When finished serve cakes over a fresh salald and top with lemon caper yogurt.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chicken Mole Enchiladas

I love a good mole sauce. Normally, mole can take awhile to make, but when I saw a quick version I knew it was perfect for our Cinco De Mayo dinner. This recipe was delicious, quick, and easy. I made a few alterations to the original recipe and in 30 minutes had a mole. If you haven't tried mole this is a great way to experience something new without too much fuss. Happy Friday and enjoy the chicken!
Chicken Mole Enchiladas
recipe by Marcela Valladoild

3 chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

5 dried pasilla chiles, (or dried anocho chiles) stemmed and seeded
1/2 cup hot water
Handful of tortilla chips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 3/4 cups chicken stock 
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter 
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12-15 corn tortillas, warmed
Oil, as needed
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup Mexican blend cheese


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

For the chicken breasts: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a baking sheet, season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and olive oil, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through or, set aside to cool, then shred into small (1-inch) pieces.

For the Mole: Reconstitute the dried chiles by soaking them in 1 1/2 cups hot water for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside. In a heavy large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, season with a little salt and saute 3 minutes, or until translucent. Then add the minced garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer onion and garlic mixture to blender with all remaining mole ingredients (except for the chocolate and chicken) and blend until very smooth. Then transfer the sauce to a medium saute pan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in the chocolate. Season the mole with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve 1 cup of mole for garnishing the enchiladas, the rest will be used for dipping the tortillas.

To assemble the enchiladas: Re-heat the shredded chicken if necessary and keep warm. In a medium saute pan (wide enough to fit the tortillas laying flat) over high heat add the oil to reach 1/2-inch up the side. When oil is hot, dip one tortilla at a time, and fry for a few seconds just until soft and heated through. Lift out, let excess oil drip, then dip the fried tortilla directly into the warm mole (which should be right next to the pan for easy dipping) and place on a cutting board. Working quickly, put about 1/3 cup of the warm shredded chicken in the center, being careful not to over fill. Roll the tortilla like a cigar to enclose the filling and place in serving dish seam side down.  If necessary, use tongs or a spatula to place each enchilada seam side down in the dish. Continue to fill all of the tortillas and place them side-by-side. Pour the remaining, reserved Mole over the top and sprinkle the cheese on top.  Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Texas Caviar (Wisconsin Style)

This is a great dip to add to a Cinco De Mayo spread with a big bowl of tortilla chips, or layered on top of a salad. A friend of mine makes this for holiday parties, and I decided that I wanted to make my own version for a mid-week treat. This is really easy to put together, and your guests will love it! Enjoy!
Texas Caviar (Wisconsin Style)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1/2 cup corn
3/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup black eye peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 Tbl vinegar
2 tsp sugar

Mix all veggies and beans in a medium bowl. Add spices, vinegar, and sugar. Mix well. Cover and allow dip to chill for about an hour before you are ready to serve.  Serve with tortilla chips or over a salad.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tequila Lime Shrimp with Chorizo Mashed Potatoes

It is almost Cinco De Mayo and I thought I would celebrate with a few Mexican inspired recipes this week. This shrimp recipe caught my eye a few weeks ago on one of my favorite blogs. Plus, I knew it would be perfect with a side of creamy mashed potatoes spiked with spicy chorizo. This dinner received rave reviews in my house, and I am certain these potatoes will find their way to our dinner table again. Hope everyone is having a wonderful week- it's finally starting to warm up in Wisconsin! Enjoy!
Tequila Lime Shrimp
Recipe from Marcela Valladolid

1 pound large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
1/4 cup green onions, sliced (Reserve a tablespoon for garnish)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup Sauza Blanco Tequila
3/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
Chili powder for garnish (optional)

Toss shrimp with salt, green onions, lime juice, kosher salt and 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper.

Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté shrimp, turning, until pink and just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add Sauza blanco, then increase heat to medium-high. Tilt skillet over gas burner to ignite tequila (or ignite with a long match; use caution, as flames may shoot up high).

Cook, shaking skillet gently once or twice, until flames subside. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

Serve sprinkled with chili powder and/or green onion.

Chorizo Mashed Potatoes
1/2 recipe of Mashed Potatoes
2 links chorizo (about 3 oz each)

Prepare potatoes as described in previous recipe. While water is boiling remove casting from chorizo and crumble in a skillet. Brown till completely cooked and set aside. While mixing potatoes gradually add chorizo and gently mix till completely incorporated.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Gluten free baking can be tricky. Somethings I make turn out great and some...well...not so much. I am always on the look out for a different recipe that makes people say "I can't tell the difference!". This recipe is awesome, and you really can't tell the difference. Moist and flavorful cake with creamy cream cheese frosting..yum. I made this sweet treat to end our Easter meal and everyone loved it! I am toying with a few different gluten free cake ideas, but if you have and success stories to share I would love it! Enjoy the cake!
Gluten Free Carrot Cake

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups light olive oil OR your favorite vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix in this recipe)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts (but extra if you want to put them on the outside too)
3 cups freshly grated carrots
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups  powdered sugar

Cream sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl with an electric beater or stand mixer. Add oil and vanilla and beat just until smooth.

In a separate bowl combine gluten-free flour mix, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat until blended.
Stir in grated carrots and nuts. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. For muffins, reduce baking time to 30-35 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. Cool on a wire rack.
While cake or muffins are cooling place butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat on high until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.

When cake is cool frost.