Thursday, June 27, 2013

Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chili

I love asparagus season. Between my my in-law growing it in their garden and our local farmer's market we have tons of fresh asparagus. We usually grill our asparagus to serve as a side dish, but this year we had so much I went in search of new and different recipes. I found this recipe on Sarah's blog, A Taste of Home Cooking, and it is originally from Bon Appetit magazine. Ron and I do not make a lot of Asian style dishes, but when we do we usually love them. I always end up kicking myself for not doing it more often! This recipe is really easy I made a few changes to the original recipe, but stuck pretty close to the original. I decreased the amount of oil and only used olive oil because Ron has an allergy to sesame. I also doubled the amount of asparagus because we has so much and to add more bulk to the entree. Ron and I absolutely loved this meal. I thought the spicy sweet flavors were delicious and the asparagus was wonderful with the pork. I am excited to make this again....we happen to have one last bunch of asparagus in our fridge...perhaps it will be sooner than later!


3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry, brandy or Madeira (I used brandy)2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 lb ground pork
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 bunches thin to medium asparagus, trimmed, cut diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
1 jalapeƱo, minced with seeds
2 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
Salt and pepper


In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brandy, and cornstarch. Add the pork and toss to blend.

Heat 2 Tbl of olive oil in a heavy large wok or deep skillet over high heat. Add asparagus, chili, and ginger. Toss until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer asparagus mixture to plate.

Add remaining  tablespoon olive oil to wok. Add pork mixture and stir-fry until browned, using wooden spoon to break up pork into small pieces, 2 to 3 minutes.

Return asparagus mixture to wok. Add oyster sauce, honey and rice vinegar. Stir-fry until pork is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add water by tablespoonfuls if it becomes too dry. Add green onions; toss to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve over steamed rice.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sweet Pork Tacos with Cilantro Ranch Dressing

Ron and I started a garden this year and I was looking for different recipes to use some of my fresh cilantro when I came across this recipe from Cassie Craves. Ron and I love tacos and it is always great to find a new recipe we can try. When I saw this this recipe I thought it was perfect to use with my fresh herbs. The other plus of this recipe is that the meat is slow cooked. Slow cooked meat = tender juicy deliciousness. I cut back on the amount of cola used in the recipe because 3 cans seemed like a lot to me and I didn't think it needed that much liquid. I also reduced the amount of sugar used in the cilantro ranch dressing.  The recipe call for the pork to sit overnight. I forgot this step and added it all to my crockpot and the results were great. Ron and I loved these tacos. I used the meat for salads to bring to work and it was absolutely delicious. These are a must make for any taco lover!


For the pork:

2 to 3 pound pork roast (I used 2 1/2)
1 cans Coca-Cola
1 cup brown sugar
4 cloves garlic
1 can diced green chilies
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 packet taco seasoning

For the dressing:

1 cup salsa verde
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1/3 cup cilantro
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice from 1 fresh lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 Tbl sugar
Place pork in crockpot. Mix all other pork ingredients together in a medium bowl. Pour over pork. Cook pork mixture on low for 8 hours, or until the pork shreds easily with a fork. Blend all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Allow dressing to rest in the fridge for an hour. Serve pork in tortillas top with cheese, lettuce and cilantro ranch sauce

Monday, June 24, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 6/24- 6/30

Wisconsin is having a heat wave this week...with tons of rain...besides the rain I am really happy. It feels like we are finally getting into summer! This week we are using our grill and crockpot a lot to help keep the house nice and cool. On Tuesday Ron and I are participating in a volleyball tournament for my work- hopefully we win! Have a great week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Crockpot Cuba Libre Pork Tacos, Saffron Rice and Black Beans
Tuesday: Volleyball Tournament/Grillout
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Crockpot Tomato Pesto Roast, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Friday:  Girl's Night!
Saturday: Italian Marinated Pork Chops, Pesto Quinoa and Grilled Asparagus
Sunday: Grilled Strip Steaks,  Garlicky Quinoa with Pinenuts, Chives and Parsley and Grilled Green Beans

Treats: Mango Strawberry Muffins

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tex Mex Meatloaf

Ron and I are big meatloaf lovers. I love all the different combinations of flavors and the fact that it can be traditional and simple. One night we were really in the mood for a taco flavored dish, but we did not have any shells for tacos or lettuce of a salad. I put together this recipe and the result was delicious. We both loved the edition of chorizo and the taco flavor was wonderful. I think a diced jalapeno would have been fantastic added to the dish, but we sadly did not have one. I served this meal with saffron rice and black beans. The meatloaf made for excellent leftovers for lunches the following day.


1 lb lean ground beef
3-4 chorizo links, casings removed and crumbled (about 3/4 - 1 lb)
3 Tbl taco seasoning (or 1 taco packet)
3 Tbl minced red bell pepper
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 white onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 eggs
1 4 oz can diced green chilies
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together besides the cheese in a large bowl. Once all ingredients are evenly mixed spread into a 9x5 loaf pan. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake 60-70 minutes. Allow meatloaf to rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with sour cream and black olives if desired.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Recipe Swap: Country Club Chicken

Time for a new recipe swap!

The theme for this month was cooking or baking with alcohol. I submitted my recipe for grilled pineapple rum pork chops and received Heather of Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks recipe for Country Club Chicken. I love finding new pasta recipes and this recipe looked easy and delicious. I swapped garlic chicken sausage over chicken breasts because I forgot to thaw mine the day I planned to make this recipe. I am sure the chicken breasts would be great, but we both thought the chicken sausage worked great. Ron and I both loved the flavors of this dish! It was rich and sweet with a nice smokiness from the bacon. I added a little extra bacon and wine because that is just how I roll. Thank you Heather for a delicious meal! Thank you to Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking for organizing our swaps.


1 lb spaghetti
     1 lb chicken sausage (we used garlic), sliced
     1/2 large onion, minced
    2 garlic clove, minced
     5 oz mushrooms, sliced
     1/2 cup chicken broth
     4 oz cream cheese
     6 slices bacon
     2/3 cup dry white wine
     1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
     1 small apple, minced
     1 tsp black pepper
     1/2 tsp salt


       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

       Cook the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Once it has browned, remove to a paper towel covered plate and drain.  Drain all but 2 teaspoons of bacon fat out of the pan. 
 Add the chicken sausage to the saute pan with bacon fat and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the pan and place in a 9 x 13 pan.   

     Add the onion and garlic to the same saute pan and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the mushrooms and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Then stir in the apples and cook for 2 minutes. 

      Sprinkle the salt and pepper into the onion mixture.  Stir in 4 pieces of crumbled bacon and white wine.

     Remove from heat and stir in the chicken broth, cream cheese,  and cheddar cheese until everything is combined.  Pour over the chicken sausage in the casserole dish.

     Break the remaining two bacon strips in half and place on top of the chicken.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.   

      While the chicken is cooking. cook the spaghetti according go package directions.  Drain. 
     Serve the chicken on top of the spaghetti and garnish with parsley.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Scandinavian Spice Cookies

Time for the June Surprise Recipe Swap reveal!

This month I received Marleys blog This and That. Her blog has lots of greats recipes and even a few African recipes. I was hoping one would catch my eye, but ultimately I decided on Scandinavian Spice Cookies.  I love spice cookies and the blend of different flavors sounded delicious! I used molasses over karo syrup because it was what I had on hand. I loved the flavors of these cookies. They reminded me of a molasses cookie, but a little more complex due to all the spices. Thank you for a great recipe!

Check out the button below if you would like to join in the fun of the Surprise Recipe Swap!


1 1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 T molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon 
1 tsp ginger
Granulated Sugar, for dusting
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the molasses, egg and soda mixed with a small amount of flour( about a tsp) and mix well.  Mix in cloves, cinnamon, cardamon and ginger.  Mix well.    
After dough is mixed, place it in the fridge for an hour. Roll into balls and flatten out with a glass. Sprinkle with sugar  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 -12 minutes.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Bread

I love rhubarb....I also love the tangy sweet combo of strawberry and rhubarb which is awesome because it is rhubarb season! When Ron and I moved into our house there was a potted rhubarb plant waiting on the deck. The former owners left us a bottle of champagne, but I was way more excited about my new plant. I have searched around for a great recipe for strawberry rhubarb bread and decided to give Smitten Kitchen's recipe a try. The recipe immediately caught my eye because of the addition of white rum. Ron and I are both big fans of rum and I love when I can throw a little booze into cooking or baking. I left out the nuts from the bread and added a little extra fruit. The recipe also included a crumble topping (which would have been awesome), but laziness took over. Oops. This bread was absolutely delicious! I made a loaf for my friend Emily (I added in a little brewer's yeast as well) to go along with delivered dinner and a visit to meet her new baby girl.  If you have some extra rhubarb from your garden I highly recommend this recipe!


3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum
1 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream
2/3 cup diced rhubarb
2/3 cup chopped strawberries


Beat together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla and rum. Combine the flours, salt and baking soda; stir. Add dry ingredients to first mixture with the sour cream.Gently fold the in strawberries and rhubarb.
Spread into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan ( the batter will be very thick). Bake at 350° for about 55 to 65 minutes.

Weekly Meal Plan 6/17 - 6/23

Happy Monday!

We had a lovely weekend and Ron got to enjoy his first Father's Day. My parents took Kellen overnight the evening before and we were able to sleep in. I made Ron breakfast in bed and gave him a few gifts from Kellen and I. We then went to Door County to get Kellen and spend the day with my family.  This week is back to the busy grind... we have volleyball practice, volleyballs games, Ron has school and regular weekly stuff.... I  am already looking forward to a our long 4th of July holiday!

Here is what is on tap!

Monday: Out for Dinner or Leftovers
Tuesday: Recipe Swap Dish and Salad
Wednesday: Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, Potato Wedges and Salad
Thursday: Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Rice
Friday:  Dinner wity my friend Amanda at El Serape
Saturday: Door County!
Sunday: Tatertot Casserole and Green Beans

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chipotle Bacon Ranch Burgers ("Wow Burgers")

This picture may not look like much, but boy are these burgers delicious! Ron dubbed these burgers "wow burgers" and they certainly pack a punch. I recently have been enjoying using more chipotle peppers in grill marinades and thought it would be perfect for a burger. While deciding what flavors to use I knew I wanted a burger full of flavor with a spicy kick. I like to make the sauce beforehand because it has a chance to sit and "marinate".  Ron and I loved these burgers so much we made them twice in one week! I love summer grilling because it is the perfect time to try out new grilling recipes...but who are we kidding, Ron and I have been know to frequently grill in the snow!


for burgers:
1.25 to 1.5 lb ground beef
5 pieces of cooked crispy bacon, chopped
1 packet of ranch seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
4 burger buns
Any preferred burger garnishes (lettuce, tomato, onion, ect..)

for chipotle ranch:
1/3 cup ranch dressing
1 chipotle pepper
1 Tbl adobo sauce


In a food processor or blender, combine ranch, peppers and sauce. Mix till smooth. Cover and set aside.

Preheat a grill to medium high. Form the beef into 4-6 burgers (depending on how large you want your burger).  Season the patties on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill burgers for about 3-4 minutes on the first side (reduce a bit if you made more than 4 burgers).  Flip, add cheddar cheese,  and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Place burgers in the buns. Top with sauce and other desired burger toppings.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

SRC: Crockpot Islander Pork Chops

Time for the June Secret Recipe Club reveal!

Secret Recipe Club

This month I recieved Angela's Kitchen. Angela's kitchen is a gluten and dairy free blog- perfect for our household. There were tons of delicious recipes, but I was on the look out for a crockpot recipe. Life with Kellen is very busy and I love finding a new crockpot recipe to make the weeknights a little easier. I came across her recipe for Islander Pork Roast. The recipe caught my attention because it was different than most "island" recipe I see and it looked adaptable for the pork chops I had in my freezer. The recipe is really easy to put together (who can beat "set it and forget it"). I stayed pretty close to the original recipe besides using pork chops over a pork roast. Ron and I loved the flavors of the pork chops! They are sweet and salty with a subtle bite from the cloves.  Thank you Angela for an awesome new recipe!


4 thick cut boneless pork chops
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1 cup canned mandarin oranges
1 cups canned crushed pineapple, with juice
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoons ground pepper


 Rub each pork chop with ground cloves and place in crockpot. Mix all other ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour over pork. Cook 7-8 on low.

Weekly Meal Plan 6/10- 6/16

Good Morning!
I can't believe that June is feels like time has been flying by.  Kellen had his 6 month pictures yesterday and I couldn't help but think as I was watching- where does the time go? I have heard this phrase many times before, but don't think I really understood it until Kellen was born. I want my little guy to stay a baby forever, but I can't help but be excited as he grows and learns new things. Perhaps this is the constant paradigm for a parent?  This week is pretty busy, but it is busy with exciting things. My wonderful friend and Doula, Emily, gave birth to her daughter on Friday and we are bringing she and her husband dinner on Tuesday. We also start volleyball on Wednesday- yay! We are also hoping to get away to see the new movie The Purge this weekend...whew... Hope everyone else has a great week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Taco Meatloaf, Chipotle Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Tuesday: Salt and Vinegar Chip Cod Sandwiches (for improv), Potato Wedges and Salad
Wednesday: BBQ Chicken, Wild Rice and Broccoli
Thursday: Sweet Pork Tacos with Cilantro Ranch Dressing, Yellow Rice and Black Beans
Friday: Grilled Brats, Grilled Potatoes, Beans and Asparagus
Saturday: Gouda Bacon Cheese Burgers and Grilled Veggies Packets
 Sunday: TBA
Treats: Chocolate Cheesecake Bars and Strawberry Rhubarb Bread

Friday, June 7, 2013

Recipe Swap: Crockpot Barbacoa Beef

Time for a WC Recipe Swap!
The theme for this month was Mexican. I was really excited because it is a favorite in our house. Ron and I love trying different flavors, cooking methods and types of Mexican food.  An all time favorite at our house has always been tacos. A lot of the time we use the old standby of ground beef with traditional toppings, but I love when I come across a new recipe that allows us to try something new and different.  I received Alison's blog Sparks from the Kitchen and her recipe for Barbacoa Beef. Previously, I made her recipe crockpot santa fe chicken in a different swap and it was delicious! I kept with the original ingredients, but I altered the cooking method. I opted to use our crockpot over the dutch oven. I decided to do this mainly because it we are not home consistently on a weekday and the crockpot is a little easier. I decided to make tacos in warm corn tortillas topped with sour cream, queso, fresh cilantro, diced red bell peppers and a squeeze of fresh lime. Ron and I absolutely loved this recipe. The meat was super tender and shredded easily and the spice was fantastic!

Thanks you for a delicious new taco filling! Thanks also go to Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking for organizing our swaps!


3 lbs beef eye of round or bottom round roast, all fat trimmed
5 cloves garlic
1 small onion
Juice and zest of 1 lime (plus extra for a squeeze over the finished product)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (+ 1 Tbl of adobo sauce)
1 Tbl ground cumin
1 Tbl dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cup beef stock
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Corn or Flour Tortillas
Sour Cream, Chopped Cilantro and Diced Red Bell Peppers, for topping


Place garlic, onion, lime juice, lime zest, cumin, oregano, chipotles, adobo and cloves in a food processor or blender to liquify. Pour into a medium bowl and mix with the beef stock.

Place roast into a crockpot. Pour the spicy sauce over the beef and add the bay leaves.

Cover and cook 8-9 hours on low. Shred beef with two forks in the crockpot. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in warm tortillas with desired toppings (I used diced red bell peppers, cilantro, sour cream and cheese) and squeeze a bit of fresh time juice over the meat.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Red Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Holy quinoa kick.... This recipe brings quinoa over to the darkside- and by darkside I mean delicious cheesy side. I had a little bit of red quinoa left and needed a side to go with our bbq chicken one evening.  We also had a little broccoli leftover and I thought it was the perfect makings of a "mac and cheese". Ron and I loved the gooey flavors of this dish and the nuttiness maintained by the quinoa.  I love finding new side dishes because we get bored with the "same old, same old"!


1 cup red quinoa (you can use pearl too)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Pre-heat over to 350 degrees.

Cook quinoa according to package instructions using chicken or vegetable stock (about 15 minutes). While quinoa cooks beat 1 egg into 1 cup of milk. When quinoa is done remove it from heat and stir in the milk and 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Gently fold in the broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

This is  a fantastic summer salad for a weeknight bbq.  I made this for my family and we gobbled it up! I love the bite from the onions and cilantro paired with the sweetness of the mango and creaminess of the avocado. This salad is super easy and is very versatile if there are other toppings you like in your salad (I think cucumber would be yummy).

This morning is a little sad....Kellen went to daycare for the first time.  I am so happy he was able to be home for the first 6 months, but today is a little glum. On the plus side the ladies in his room were so nice when we dropped him off. I loved that they asked lots of questions and really listened to our answers. However, the end of the day will not come soon enough and I can't wait to see my bambino!


1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 ripe mango, cubed small
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 avocado, cubed small
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper


Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside and allow to cool.

Gently toss quinoa with mango, onion, avocado and cilantro.

In a small bowl mix the lime juice, honey and pepper. Stir gently into quinoa salad. The salad can be served immediately or it can be chilled for a few hours before it is served.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 6/3-6/9

Happy Monday!

This is a big week for our family because Ron is starting school today and Kellen is starting daycare *sniff*.  We are also starting out our summer volleyball this week- yay!  I am really hoping that we can get to Door County this weekend as well...but we will see how the week goes with all of the new happenings.  Hope everyone has a fantastic week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Out for  my parents anniversary
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Islander Pork Roast (SRC), Red Quinoa and Cauliflower
Wednesday: Smoky Tex Mex Sloppy Joses, Potato Wedges and Green Beans
Thursday:   Crockpot Chicken Cheesesteaks, American Fries and Green Beans
Friday: Grilled BBQ Chipotle Ranch Pork Chops, Wild Rice, Cauliflower and Salad
Saturday: Out for Dinner...possibly Door County
Sunday: Chorizo and Romanseco Burgers, Grill Potatoes and Asparagus
Treats: Scandinavian Spice Cookies (SRS)