Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favorite Top 13 of 2013

Happy New Year's Eve! 

We are staying comfy and cozy from our house this year.  I hope the 2014 brings you family, fun and food! 

Here are my favorites from 2014:

13. Lactation Cookies
I ate ton of these for milk supply....they are so delicious.


12. Mexican Meatballs
This was inspired by a recipe swap and Swedish meatballs- the result was one of our favorite meals.


11. Curry Risotto with Carrots, Peas and Shrimp
A result of an Improv Cooking challenge for peas and carrots....The flavors are awesome.


10. Warm Roasted Red Pepper, Feta and Basil Dip
I made this dip for a cookout and the flavors are so unique, rich and amazing.


9. Chipotle Bacon Ranch Burgers
Ron's new favorite burger. Spicy and delicious.


8. Greek Lasagna Skillet
An awesome twist on an old favorite. I love the addition of the kalamata olives.


7. Sriracha Beef Tacos
I made this recipe after eying it up on a few other blogs....they are spicy and awesome. the sauce is so good!


6. Brat and Beer Mac and Cheese
I love beer, brats and cheese. This is my trio of deliciousness.


5. Red Velvet Cheesecake
A special treat for my sister's birthday. I love the frosting with the cheesecake!


4. Pan-Seared Salmon with Creamy Sriracha Sauce
So simple, but so wonderful. This might have been the year of Sriracha.


3. Beer and Bacon Carbonara
I made this for a guest post for a beer week. I used Spotted Cow....my absolute favorite beer.


2. Italian Chicken Green Bean and Potato Bake
A Pinterest find and a perfect easy weeknight meal.


1.  Crab Cake Sandwich
So delicious.....we are actually having mini crab cakes for New Years using this recipe


Monday, December 30, 2013

Most Popular of 2013

This year I wanted to put a list together of the recipes made popular by my readers! I have a post tomorrow of my personal favorites, but today I wanted to take a look at what the most popular recipes were in 2013. 

In no particular order:





























Weekly Meal Place 12/30 - 1/5

2014 is almost here and what a wonderful year it has been. My family is thankful for so many things.  I hope your year has been wonderful and wishing you a wonderful 2014!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Out to Dinner
Tuesday: Happy New Year Crab Cakes, Steak and Mac and Cheese
Wednesday: Subs!
Thursday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Friday: Out with Family for Steaks
Saturday: Girls Night!
Sunday: Go Pack Go! Beef Chili w/ All the Fixings! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 12/23 - 12/29

Happy Holidays!!!

Here is what is on tap this week: 

Monday: Pizza
Tuesday: Christmas Eve Celebration with My Family
Wednesday: Christmas Day Celebration with Ron's Family
Thursday: Italian Chicken Potato and Green Bean Bake
Friday: Crockpot Beef and Broccoli w/ Egg Rolls
Saturday: Date Night
Sunday: Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Friday, December 20, 2013

White Chocolate Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Time for December Crazy Ingredient Challenge


The theme for this month is garlic and white chocolate. Yes, you read it right- garlic and white chocolate. Jutta (our host) of  Hungry Little Girl likes to sneak a curve ball in and he did it with flying colors this month.  When the ingredients were announced I was racking my brain at what I could make with these two ingredients.  

Cookies- no.  Marinade- eh.  Cheesecake- ew.  Mashed potatoes- hmmmmm..... my interest was perked. 

I thought melted white chocolate could be used in mashed potatoes.  Normally, I use milk, butter and cream cheese, and while these ingredients are not sweet they produce the creaminess one could get from using chocolate.  I thought that roasting garlic and adding it to the potatoes would work perfectly to cut some of the sweetness from the white chocolate. 

Before making this I had never roasted garlic before!  I can't believe that I waited this long to do it because it was so delicious and easy to do! If you are interested in joining the challenge check out Jutta's blog. It is really fun because the ingredients truly get the creative juice flowing, and result in some yummy results! 

Tonight is my family's pre-holiday celebration and I am so excited to spend time with my family (and have a Tom and Jerry!).   Tomorrow, my cousin and I will cook up and storm and we will start all over again! 


Ingredients

2 1/2 - 3 lb russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup milk (we use 2 %)
2 Tbl salted butter
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
2-3 medium hard garlic heads (you can adjust this depending of size of garlic heads)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper


Instructions

roasted garlic:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut off  top of garlic heads. Drizzle olive oil into a small baking dish. Place garlic in baking dish. Drizzle garlic with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover baking dish with foil and roast until tender, 45 minutes-1 hour. Cool slightly and squeeze out garlic cloves. 

Boil potatoes till tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Melt white chocolate in 10 second intervals, stirring in between.  Add butter, chocolate and milk to potatoes and mash till they react desired smoothness. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the roasted garlic. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Peanut Butter Snickers Cookies

Snow, snow and more snow in Wisconsin! The holiday baking bug has bitten me and I am trying all different types of cookies.  I have been wanting to try Smitten Kitchen's Peanut Butter Cookies and I am so happy I did because they do not disappoint. The only change I made was to add chopped candy bar over peanut butter chips.  Ron and I loved these super simple cookies!  I have made a few peanut butter cookies, but I think these take the cake! 


Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (I used smooth)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped Snickers bars
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For sprinkling: 1 tablespoon sugar, regular or superfine


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. 

Place sprinkling sugar on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern, but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. 

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 12/16 - 12/22

Well we made it through the birthday party madness and it was a huge success!

Kellen loved his party, but was a little overwhelmed by all the commotion. He certainly loves all of his new toys! He received many lovely things and was so lucky to have so many people come to celebrate his first year earth-side. 

Here are a few photos of our Tailgating theme:





This week we celebrate Christmas with my extended family.  I love spending time with family and can hardly wait for the holidays to get officially underway! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Brat Cheese and Cracker Mac and Cheese
Tuesday:  Slow Cooker Red Wine BBQ Pork Roast, White Chocolate Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Beans
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Out to Dinner
Friday:  Dinner with my Family
Saturday: Ramaker Family Christmas
Sunday: Go Pack Go! Beef Chili w/ All The Fixings

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Double Dark Chocolate Cookies

Time for December Secret Recipe Club

Secret Recipe Club

This month I received the blog Bizzy Bakes. My first thought was, what a perfect assignment for the holidays!  There were lots of delicious treats to choose from, but I ultimately decided to make Double Dark Chocolate Cookies because I knew my husband would absolutely love them (he is the chocolate lover in our house!).  I loved the rich chocolate flavor of these cookies and, as I predicted, Ron loved them. They were gone in about 2 days.....what are the holidays for!?  I think that these cookies will have to make another appearance this holiday season! 

Thanks for a new tasty treat! 


Ingredients

¼ cup salted butter, softened

¼ cup canola oil 

½ cup packed brown sugar 

¼ cup granulated sugar 

1 egg 

1 tsp vanilla 

1 cup all-purpose flour 

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

½ tap baking powder 

1/8 tap salt 

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. 

In a medium bowl whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; beat into sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by slightly rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. 

Bake about 12 minutes or just until edges are set. Let cool 1 minute on cookie 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Recipe Swap: Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Time for December Recipe Swap!


This month I received the blog  Jey of Cooking. I have made a few of her recipes before for previous swaps such as, tilapia in tomato bacon butter and quinoa crusted chicken . Both were delicious and I was excited to try something new.   I love molasses cookies and when I came across her recipe for Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies I was sold (perfect for the holidays as well!).  This recipe is so easy and the flavors are delicious. I love the spice from the ginger with the flavors from the molasses....yum!  

Thank you for an awesome new recipe....I ate a bunch fresh from the oven and I think I need to make another batch!  Thanks also go to Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking for organizing our swaps! 


Ingredients

3/4 Cup Butter, softened
 2 Cups Sugar (and a little extra for sprinkling at the end)
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Molasses
2 tsp Vinegar
3 3/4 Cups Flour
 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves


Instructions

Preheat oven to 325.  Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, molasses and vinegar and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and clove.  Add flour mixture a little bit at a time to the wet mixture until fully combined.  Using a cookie scoop, drop balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with sugar.

Bake 9-10 minutes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 12/9 - 12/15

Happy Monday and whooooohoooo for a Packer win! 

The week has finally come. My baby is turning 1 in two days. I know I have been talking about this a lot lately, but I am feeling a bit sad that he is getting bigger. I can see the baby going away and the toddler emerging a little more each day.  Kellen has also learned the word "no".  He doesn't seem to know what it means, but loves running around the house yelling "no, no, no, no!".  We have decided to make a conscious effort not to say it around the house as often. 

This week we are busy busy....mainly party prepping and (to me) that is fun busy.  We got our tree finished this weekend, shopping is almost done and Christmas cards are all addressed.  I am actually feeling ahead this holiday and am so thankful.....last Christmas was so hectic and this is a happy change for our family.  I am also really excited to cook Christmas dinner for the family. Last year Kellen was in the NICU and my sweet family cooked in my place. I was so thankful, but am looking forward to getting in the kitchen this year. 

Monday: Out to Dinner with my Dad
Tuesday:  Chicken Broccoli Cheese & Cracker Casserole and Salad
Wednesday: Volleyball and Take Out Thai and a cupcake for Kellen's birthday
Thursday:  Lighter Lasagna Soup and Bread
Friday:  Rootbeer BBQ Pork Sandwiches, American Fries and Green Beans and prep for Kellen's party
Saturday: Kellen's Birthday Party and leftovers for dinner
Sunday: Go Pack Go! Beef Chili with all the fixings


Friday, December 6, 2013

White Chicken Enchiladas

Do you ever see a recipe and have it on your back burner forever, finally get around to making it and kick yourself for waiting so long!?  I do! 

This recipe from Joyful Momma's Kitchen went around Pinterest like a firestorm and I knew I wanted to try it because I love enchiladas and it was something different than our usual. I really loved the flavor of these enchiladas and they reminded me of enchiladas suzias.  The recipe is really easy to put together and I love broiling the cheese at the end to give it a nice brown crust.  Kellen gave these a try and really enjoyed them. I love that he is still so willing to try different meals! 

This morning Kellen was visited by St. Nick. He left his little shoe out and it was filled with a cutie and an Elmo smartphone toy.

Tonight we are headed to my friend Heather's 30th birthday party. Heather is one of my oldest friends and am so excited to celebrate with her and her family.  On Saturday, Kellen and I are going to have breakfast with Santa with a few friends.  After breakfast we are going to Ron's family's house to make peppernuts and have dinner. Sunday we are going to watch the game.....I hope they win....seriously.... and have take-out with my Dad (my mom, sister and nephew are in Mexico- lucky). 

Have a great weekend!


Ingredients

10 soft taco shells
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 4 oz can diced green chilies


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 pan. 

Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up in tortillas and arrange in baking dish.

In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.

Stir in sour cream and chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream. Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.

Bake 25 min and then  broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Italian Chicken Potato and Green Bean Bake



I have seen this recipe floating around Pinterest and a few blogs I follow for awhile and only now have gotten around to making it. I literally put this together in 5 minutes and into the oven it went. Ron, Kellen and I absolutely loved this meal. The chicken was so juicy and tender and the potatoes cooked perfectly.  We were both surprised that everything cooked evenly and was done at the same time.  All of the recipes I saw have slightly variations and we made a few of our own. I used 2 packets of Italian seasoning mix (we like a little extra punch) and decreased the amount of butter. The result was great and I can't wait to make this meal again!  Since Kellen goes to bed around 7:30 a quick meal is very appreciated so he is able to eat with us before he tuck in for the night.  

Less thank a week till he turns 1.....eeek! 


Ingredients

3 generous cups red potatoes, quartered
2 cans cut green beans (you could use frozen)
1-1 1/2 lb chicken breasts (4 chicken breasts)
3/4 stick butter, cut into pieces 
2 Italian dressing seasoning/mix packets


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Line one side of the pan with green beans. Cut potatoes up. Line opposite side of pan with the potatoes. Line the chicken breasts down the middle of the baking dish. Cut butter up and layer over the green beans, potatoes and chicken. Sprinkle Italian dressing over the entire pan. Cover with foil. Bake 1 hour. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pork and Ramen Stir-Fry

A family friend makes delicious homemade egg rolls and we were lucky enough to purchase two dozen. I thought they would be perfect for dinner alongside Pork and Ramen Stir-Fry from Julie's Eats & Treats. I can't tell you the last time I purchased ramen noodles (probably is college), but it was fun to look at all the flavors again and remember what a staple they once were.  This recipe was really simple to put together and tasted wonderful. I  used a broccoli slaw mix over a traditional coleslaw cabbage mix and I thought it worked really well. My only complaint is that the pork becomes a little chewy with this cooking method. The flavors are fantastic, but I think I would like to try adding shrimp next time or maybe chicken. 

Kellen's birthday cake is ordered! I decided on a tailgating theme and can't wait to see how everything comes together! 


Ingredients

1/4 c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tsp canola oil, divided
1 lb boneless pork loin chops, cut in 1/2 in strips
1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
4 cup coleslaw mix (I used broccoli slaw mix)
1 can  bamboo shoots, drained
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pkg  Ramen noodles


Instructions

Whisk the first five ingredients together in a small bowl.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat. Add pork and cook until no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining oil to pan and cook broccoli for 3 minutes. Add coleslaw mix, bamboo shoots and garlic. Stir Fry 3-4 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Stir in soy sauce mixture and pork. Heat through.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Discard seasoning mix from Ramen noodles. Drain and then add noodles to the pork mixtures.
Toss to combine.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 12/2 - 12/8

I have to say I was really looking forward to December this year. Kellen was so young during the holidays this year and it is nice that he will get to enjoy it! His first birthday is right around the corner as well! This month is shaping up to be pretty busy, but I am loving all the different holiday celebrations! 

This pas weekend we went to Blue Harbor with my family and Kellen had a blast. I think the lazy river was his favorite. He quickly fell asleep in Grandma's arms by the second time around the river! 

This week we are making peppernuts with Ron' family and Kellen is going to meeting Santa for breakfast in the morning on Saturday. The evening before we are celebrating my friend  Heather's 30th birthday and Sunday will bring us the Packer game.....and hopefully a win! 

Monday: Chicken Green Bean and Potato Bake
Tuesday: Million Dollar Spaghetti,  Garlic Bread and Salad
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Crockpot Chicken and Salad
Friday:  My friend Heather's Birthday Celebration
Saturday: Breakfast with Santa and Peppernuts with the Leckers!
Sunday: Go Packer Go! Sriracha Burger, Potato Wedges and Salad

Treats: Double Dark Chocolate Cookies 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 11/25 - 12/1

Woohooo for a holiday week! 

I love holidays and family get together traditions.....We usually go to Ron's parents house and have lunch. This year the Packer game is at 11:30 and we are tailoring our meal around the game. Hopefully it is not another tie (a tie...seriously!!!!). The kids will go down for naps and we will bowl later in the evening with the family. On Friday, I am cooking for my family and Saturday we are going to a water park so the kids can play and adults can unwind

I little baby tidbit- this was my due date for Kellen. It is hard to believe it has almost been a year. Little did I know I had 2 1/2 more weeks to go!  

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday: Tater Tot Casserole and Green Beans
Tuesday: Chicken, Green Bean and Potato Bake
Wednesday: Out for volleyball
Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving! (I am making McMuffin Casserole since we aren't eating till 1 pm)
Friday: More Thanksgiving Celebrations
Saturday:  Water Park Over Night
Sunday:  Mexican Meat Balls, Rice and Salad

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chorizo Potato and Corn Chowder

This morning I looked out the window and Wisconsin had it's first snow dusting (see the frost on the wood?)! Chilly temperatures immediately make me crave a big bowl of hot soup.  Ron and I love chorizo and I have been wanting to make a corn chowder style soup for awhile, but had not gotten around to developing a recipe.  I was very pleased with how this recipe turned out and loved the smokey and spice flavors mixed with the sweet corn.  We will definitely be making this delicious and hearty soup again!

At 11 1/2 months Kellen was a little too young for chorizo, but he has been trying tons of new foods. He has not proved to be picky about flavors, but doesn't like textures or "mushy" types of foods at this point.

Favorites
veggies: peas, green beans, avocado, kale, carrots, roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, edamame
fruits: his favorite are apples and pears (but not applesauce), but pretty much everything
meals: quinoa and chicken, spaghetti (really all pastas), chicken enchiladas, pizza (I let him try a few bites of mine and he was thrilled- go figure), roasted chicken, veggies curry stew and beef roast
Miscellaneous: cheese, cheerios, kale puffs, brown rice, toast (he loves the crispy crust)

Dislikes:
veggies: none....he doesn't like mashed potatoes
fruits: bananas and applesauce
meals: ravioli 
miscellaneous: yogurt (I think this is his ultimate nemesis)

Kellen is still mainly getting breastmilk, but we are slowly introducing organic cow's milk to him. He doesn't seem to have any issue with it and he certainly has protested.  We still have not tried eggs by themselves since they initially gave him hives around 10 months. I plan on trying again after speaking with his doctor at his 1 year check-up (sniff) in December.  We have not given him any sweet treats, but he has tried a few nibbles of the different pumpkin breads I made and loved them. He will get a little pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but the ultimate sweet treat will be at his birthday celebration when he gets a small frosted cup cake of his very own. Overall, I am happy with how he is discovering food....he is a bit of a carboholic, but loves his veggies. 


Ingredients

4 slice bacon, chopped
1 lb chorizo, crumbled
2 cups peeled diced potatoes
1 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cup frozen corn
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 cups milk (I use 2%)
4 Tbl flour
Salt and pepper, to taste


Ingredients

Add bacon to a dutch oven (or other heavy bottom pot) and cook over medium heat till bacon is crisp. Remove from pot and place on paper towel lined plate. Add chorizo and brown. Remove from pot and set aside on paper towel lined plate (It can be the same plate as the bacon.

Add onions and peppers to pot. Cook till onions are tender. 

Add potatoes, garlic, cumin, chili powder and stock. Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until potatoes are tender.   Add corn and cook an additional 5 minutes.  

Whisk together milk and flour to make a slurry. Stir into chowder.  Add chorizo and bacon back to the pot.  Cook over medium heat and allow the soup to thicken.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gingerbread Spiced Meatballs with Onion Ale Gravy

Time for November Crazy Ingredient Challenge


The theme for this month was gingerbread spice and onions. Tricky. The combo had me tripped up for awhile trying to decide what to make. I ultimately decided on meatballs and  gravy.  I kept very light on the spice because I did not want to meatballs to taste too much like the Christmas cookie.  Thankfully the recipe came together nicely and the gravy was delicious with the slight bitter taste from the ale.  Ron was not a big fan of this recipe, but he can be a traditionalist about certain meals.  I found the recipe to be good and different (not in a negative way).  Our host Jutta of Hungry Little Girl  offered two recipes for gingerbread spice, one American style and one German Style.  I opted to use the American style because I do not care for anise. The flavors felt festive to me. I am sure that sounds strange, but I associate gingerbread with the holidays and it is always a warm and cozy taste and smell. 

I love this challenge because the ingredients are challenging, but it is a lot of fun!  I can't wait to find out what the December ingredients are! 


Ingredients

1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 Tbl sour cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbl olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1/3 cup flour
2 cups beef stock
1 cup Beer (I used an Ale)
12 oz egg noodles


Instructions

By hand, gently mix beef, bread crumbs, sour cream, egg and spices.  Form into 1 1/2 inch meat balls. Allow them to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. 

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Brown meatballs on all sides. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Add onions to pot, stir often and cook till tender. Add flour to onions and stir to coat evenly.  Slowly whisk beef stock into onions. Bring to a slow simmer and add beer.  Simmer 2 minutes and add meatballs. Cover and simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes. 

Serve over egg noodles. 
HunngryLittleGirl

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 11/18 - 11/24

Good Morning!

I saw snow this morning! Winter is officially feeling closer and closer. This week we are starting something very new and are interviewing a company to come and help with cleaning around the house. With both of us in and out during the week and weekend it feels like it is time. I never thought we would have a cleaning person (lady in this case), but it feels more important to me to spend our free time as a family then worrying about if my floors have been scrubbed.  I am interested to see how this will change the dynamic in our home, but am very excited for the help. 

Kellen is growing leaps and bounds and is sooooooooooo close to walking..... I ordered his birthday invites this past weekend and and so excited to start planning his first birthday party (or tailgate in his case!). 

Have a great week!

Monday: Pork and Ramen Stir-Fry and Egg Rolls
Tuesday: Stroganoff Casserole, Garlic Bread and Salad
Wednesday: Leftovers before volleyball
Thursday:  Crockpot Chipotle Root Beer BBQ Pork Sadnwiches, Red Potatoes and Salad
Friday: Baked Potato Gnocchi and Salad
Saturday:  Dinner with my Parents
Sunday:  Hunger Games after the Packer Game! We are grabbing dinner after....probably Thai.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Recipe Swap: Velvet Pumpkin Bread

Time for November Recipe Swap!


The theme for this month was vegetarian recipes and I was assigned Alison's blog Sparks from the Kitchen
I looked at a few different recipes before deciding on Velvet Pumpkin Bread (Eggplant Parmesan sounds awesome as well!).  However, I have had a serious love for all things pumpkin the last few weeks and thought this particular bread sounded great. The original recipe was doubled, but I cut it in half so I wouldn't be able to eat it all in one sitting....it has been known to happen.  I cut out some of the oil in the recipe by using 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup oil, but I think you could easily do 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup oil.  I also added a bit of vanilla because I love the stuff.  I made a few different pumpkin treats lately and this was Ron's favorite (Kellen is Switzerland with pumpkin- he loves it all).  The bread was soooo moist and delicious it took all my willpower not to eat the entire loaf! 

Life has been going well for us. Kellen struggled with a bout of pneumonia last week, but has been feeling great after a lot of tlc. Fall seems to be going by very quickly and I am feeling a growing sense of closure to the year. It amazes me how much has happened in 1 year. I had my first child and he will be 1 year old in a few short weeks. It is so profound to me....I have also been exclusively pumping for him and almost have reached my 1 year goal. I am working on a piece about our pumping adventure I hope to share with you all in December because our situation was a little different than most and , as I told Ron, it has been the most difficult thing I have ever done, but am thankful for the journey.

Thanks you to Alison for the great recipe and big thanks to Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking for organizing the swaps! 


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin 


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9″x5″ loaf pan with non-stick baking spray.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and set aside.  In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer) combine oil, applesauce, vanilla and sugar. Mix till smooth. Slowly mix in flour mixture. Add the eggs and pumpkin.  Pour batter into the  prepared pans and bake for 1 hour.
Makes 1 loaf.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 11/11 - 11/17

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Creamy Tomato Pesto Baked Pasta with Italian Sausage and Salad
Tuesday: White Chicken Enchiladas, Rice and Black Beans
Wednesday: Leftovers/Chili/Mish Mosh
Thursday: Darn Good Roast, Mashed Potatoes and Cardamom Orange Glazed Carrots
Friday:   Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops (w/ homemade cream of chicken), Parmesan Quinoa and Broccoli
Saturday: Out for Dinner
Sunday: Brunch @ A'Bravo & Go Pack Go! Lentil and Sausage Soup

Sunday, November 10, 2013

SRC: Harvest Pumpkin Ale Bread

Time for November Secret Recipe Club!

 Secret Recipe Club

This month I received Heather's blog Join Us, Pull Up a Chair.  I was really excited to read Heather's recipes because a lot of them were right up our ally. Since we are smack in the middle of fall I was hoping to find something seasonal to make.  I came across her recipe for Harvest Pumpkin Ale Bread and immediately started drooling.  Pumpkin + Beer = my happy place.  Heather's recipe is wonderfully easy and the bread is absolutely delicious. I brought this to my family for football Sunday and it was happily gobbled down by adults and kids (Kellen couldn't eat it fast enough!). The original recipe uses Sam Adams Oktoberfest, but I used Pumking Ale...perfect excuse to crack one open! Thank you Heather for a wonderful new recipe!  


Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin beer puree (recipe below)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pumpkin Puree
1/2 15 oz can pumpkin 
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 bottle beer (6 fl. oz.)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Slowly stir to combine all the ingredients. Divide puree into two containers. You'll use one now and the other should be refrigerated in an air-tight container to make a second loaf.


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick spray.

Using a stand mixer (you could use hand as well), mix the sugar and oil till smooth. Slowly add in the eggs, one at a time. Once combined, stop the mixer and add the pumpkin puree. Turn the mixer to medium-low and run for 5 minutes to fully combine the wet ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix slowly on low until well combined.

Pour the mixture in the prepared pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and completely cool in the pan.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lemon, Thyme and Sage Roasted Chicken

This is my roasted chicken recipe I have tweeked and worked on for awhile.  I love the flavors of lemon and herbs in a roasted chicken and this recipe is as simple as they come.  This is also a nice alternative to turkey on Thanksgiving if you have a smaller crowd to feed.  I like to go traditional when we have a roasted chicken....mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet corn and buttermilk biscuits. We are in heaven!  

Wisconsin has started to cool down and we are beginning to gear up for winter.....ice fishing discussions have already been happening, chili cook offs are in full swing and football season is hot and heavy.  I am hoping that the Packers will still pull out a win this weekend even without our injured QB...they are saying three games last I heard, and I am hoping it is not more. 

Have a wonderful weekend!


Ingredients

1 4 lb chicken
1/4 cup salted butter, softened
Zest from 1 lemon
15 sage leaves
2 Tbl fresh thyme
2 Tbl olive oil
1 small onion, quartered
Salt and Pepper


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. 

In a food processor (you could also mince the herbs and mix by hand if you do not have a food processor), add butter, sage, thyme and lemon zest. Process till smooth.

Pat the chicken (inside and out) dry. Using your fingers  work under the skin of the chicken breasts and thighs. Rub the butter mixture between skin and meat. Rub skin with olive oil. Salt and pepper the skin and cavity of the chicken generously. Stuff with quartered lemon (reserve from when zested and seeded) and onion. 

Place chicken into a roasting pan with rack (you could go without, but I find that the chicken will occasionally stick).  Place any desired veggies around the chicken. Roast for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 425 degrees and roast for an additional hour or until a thermometer read 165 degrees when inserted into the thigh. Remove chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love baking with pumpkin. I think it adds a wonderful springy texture to baked treats.  My cousin makes delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and I usually have to wait for the holidays to enjoy them (I do not dare keep them in the house).  I came across Joy of Baking recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and they sounded fantastic and perfect to bring for a work meeting.  The recipe is really easy and the only adjustment I made was an adjustment to the sugar to use brown sugar along with the white granulated sugar. These were absolutely delicious and completely satisfied my pumpkin craving ....for now. I have a few other pumpkin goodies to share over the next few days- stay tuned! 


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup  granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in the middle of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground spices, and salt. 

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and pumpkin puree, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips.   

Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter. Place in the oven and bake for about 18 - 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. 

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 11/4 - 11/16

Happy Monday!

Are you ready for some fooooooootttbaaalllll!? I know we are. Sunday just wasn't the same without a game to watch! Tonight my parents are coming over and we are going to watch (and hopefully celebrate a victory!) 

This week is very uneventful....which is amazing. I am looking forward to a slow pace until the holidays get here. However with the holidays come my baby's 1st birthday...*sniff*

Here is what is on tap:  

Monday: Blue Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans 
Tuesday: Gingerbread Spiced Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower
Wednesday: Mediterranean Mac and Cheese, Grilled Shrimp and Salad
Thursday: Sriracha Mac and Cheese, Grilled Chicken Sausage and Salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out for Dinner
Sunday: Beef Chili

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!!!

Wishing you a day of tricks, treats and fun!

and a few scary movies!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spooky S'Mores Brownies

One more day till Halloween! 

I have seen these babies floating around Pinterest for a few weeks and decided that I needed to give them a try. This is the recipe from Home is Where The Boat Is I found on Pinterest and this is the brownie recipe I used from Kitchen Concoctions.  I was drawn to the brownie recipe because of the tagline of one bowl.  Busy week night and one bowl brownies? Score!  The brownie recipe was absolutely delicious and I can't wait to make it again- Peeps or not.  My picture is not great and does not do justice to how use these guys are.  I loved the idea of using Peeps for a holiday feel to traditional s'mores flavors. Think this would also be fun to try with the different Peep marshmallows released around Christmas! 


Ingredients

1 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
¾ cup sugar 
½ cup all-purpose flour 
1/3 cup cocoa powder 
¼ teaspoon baking powder 
¼ teaspoon salt 
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 eggs 
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips (reserve 18 to use for the eyes)
1 package of Ghost Peeps (you could use pumpkin or cat too)


Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bag, crush graham crackers to equal 1 1/2 cups. Add butter, sugar and salt. Mix with hands until evenly incorporated. Press graham crackers into the bottom of a greased 8x8 baking dish.  Bake crust for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees. 

While the crust is cooling prepare the brownies batter.  Add flour, coca powder, baking powder, salt, oil vanilla and eggs into a large bowl of stand mixer. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. 

Spread brownie batter over cooled crust. Bake 20 minutes.  Top with chocolate chips and bake an additional 2-3 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and arrange Peeps on top.  Broil briefly to brown the marshmallow.  Remove from oven and place remaining chocolate chips on the Peeps to make eyes. 

Allow brownies to cool. Slice and enjoy with a glass of cold milk.