Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Weekly Meal Planning 7/28 - 8/3

Happy Tuesday! 

Here is what is on tap for this week:

Monday: Out for Dinner
Tuesday: Sriracha Beef Tacos, Rice and Black Beans
Wednesday: Southwestern BLT Sandwiches, Chips and Cottage Cheese
Thursday: Blue Cheese Burgers, Mushrooms and Potato Wedges
Friday: Tuna Melts, American Fries and Green Beans
Saturday: Big Mac Burgers, Oven Fries and Salad
Sunday: Out to Dinner with my parents

Treats: Vanilla and Chocolate Chunk Greek Yogurt Muffins and Monster Cookies

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Ron and I love gnocchi, but have not eaten it over the past few years because Ron was believed to be gluten intolerant. Recently, Ron went in for further testing and it was found that he is in fact NOT gluten intolerant. Ron was super annoyed by the whole situation, but on the bright side he can eat wheat again. I have never seen the man so happy as when he was eating his first doughnut in 4 years.  While the past few years have been difficult (and expensive), eating without gluten has taught us a lot about processed foods and things we will continue to avoid in our diets.  

This is a soup that I have seen on a couple of different blogs that I follow and is a copycat Olive Garden recipe (The recipe can be found at CopyKat Recipes). In the past I thought it looked delicious, but did not make it because of the gnocchi. When Ron's doctor said that he could have wheat this was one of the first recipes that popped into my head. The original recipe called for half & half and dried herbs. I used fresh herbs from our garden, a bit more spinach, chicken stock over broth and 2% milk to lighten it up a bit. I also slightly increased the amount of flour because I wasn't using half & half. 

Ron and I loved this soup. The flavors are really nice and bright. I loved the fresh herbs with the creamy chicken flavors. The gnocchi makes the soup very rich and is perfect on a cooler night. Wisconsin (at least Green Bay) had a heat wave last week and is now very cool (63 degrees) so soup seemed appropriate. 


Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons  butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart 2% milk
  • 28 oz chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
  • 1 16 oz package ready-to-use gnocchi
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Instructions

Melt the butter into the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk. Simmer until thickened. Whisk in the chicken broth. Simmer until thickened again. Stir in thyme, parsley, nutmeg, carrots, spinach, chicken, and gnocchi. Simmer until the soup is heated through. Before serving, season with salt and pepper.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Recipe Swap: Hawaiian Burger

Time for July's WC Recipe Swap!


The theme for this month's swap is grilling/cookout. I submitted my recipe for chipotle ranch burgers and received Nichole of Cookaholic Wife's recipe, Hawaiian Burgers.  As I have said many times before, Ron and I love making new and different burgers. I am usually not "team mayo" on a burger, but the chipotle mayo on this sandwich is awesome! It is delicious with the sweetness from the pineapple and smokiness of the bacon. We opted for muenster cheese on our burgers and left the lettuce, tomato, ect off the burgers. Another great thing was the herbs mixed in with the burger meat. This is the first year we have done a garden and chives and parsley were freshly picked. Maybe it is that we grew it ourselves or just in our heads, but the flavors of the herbs were fantastic. 

Speaking of gardening.... ours has been doing pretty well! I lost our cilantro and am planning on replanting this weekend. Question for gardeners- I felt like mine did not get very leafy and got a lot of flowers. I have heard that I should have trimmed it more. Any advice on caring and growing cilantro?  Aside from the cilantro, the rest of the garden is doing well and we have already gotten a bunch of cherry tomatoes!

Thank you Nichole of a delicious recipe and thanks to Sarah for hosting our swap!




Ingredients

Burger:

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tbsp. fresh chives, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. oregano1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper


Mayonnaise:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 tsp. adobo sauce
pinch of salt and pepper 


Toppings:
8 slices bacon, cooked
4 slices Munster cheese
4 slices fresh pineapple
4 burger buns 


Instructions

 Prepare the burger patties by combining all of the ingredients together in a bowl and then form into 4 evenly sized patties. Preheat a grill to high heat. Prepare the mayonnaise by placing the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, extra sauce, salt and mayo into a food processor. Mix till smooth (you could also do this by mincing the peppers by hand). Grill the burgers for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Top with the cheese cheese and allow cheese to melt.  Transfer burgers to a plate. Place the pineapple on the grill for 1-2 minutes per side. Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the burger bun. Place burgers on buns. Top with bacon and serve. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Balsamic Roast Beef

Last week Wisconsin was sizzlin'! I hate turning on my oven when there are consistent temps in the high 80's- low 90's. My crockpot and grill become my fast friends during those hot days. I saw this recipe (originally from Add A Pinch) floating around a few different blogs I read.  Ron and I both love roasts and I thought it was worth a try. I loved the flavors of the roast....a little salty, a little sweet and a little spice from the red pepper flakes.  I served it over mashed potatoes with a it of the jus over the top. The beef was tender and fell apart easily. A perfect oven free meal! 

I had a girls night on Saturday to celebrate a few birthdays between my friends. There are 6 of us and 3 celebrate birthdays in July and 3 celebrate birthdays in February. It sure makes for large and fun birthday parties! I had to go home around 1 a.m. because I needed to pump (sigh), but next year all bets are off.  I am currently 7 1/2 months in exclusively pumping for Kellen. My goal is 12 months and I have 4 1/2 months to go. Sometimes this feels like an eternity and sometimes it feels like a breeze.  Positive affirmations and advice from other moms has been a major help to me.  I think that this has taught me a lot about myself, but it sure has it's hard days! 


Ingredients

3-4 lb chuck roast
1 1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl soy sauce
2 Tbl honey
1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes (I used a generous 1 tsp)
4 cloves garlic, minced


Instructions

Place beef in the crock pot  In a medium bowl mix all other ingredients together. Pour over the beef. Cook on low 7-8 hours.  Shred and serve.

Weekly Meal Plan 7/22- 7/28

Sorry This has to be quick! I am posting on the run this morning and am running late! 

Here is what is on tap:

Tuesday:  Grilled Chicken Ceasar Chicken , Potato Wedges and Fruit
Wednesday: Out before Volleyball
Friday: Eggs Con Chorizo Burgers and Fresh Fruit
Saturday: Cousin Stacy's Wedding Shower in the Afternoon & Jeff's Birthday in the Evening
Sunday: Carne Guisada, Rice, Beans and Tortillas

Treats:  Zucchini Cinnamon Chip Muffins

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Peach and Mint Crumble

Peaches and Herb...Peaches and Herb...No not the 70's duet, but the theme for July's Improv Cooking Challenge! I didn't get around to making my recipe so last month, but there was no way I was going to miss out on cooking with these seasonal beauties. I toyed with a few different options before deciding on a crumble with mint (my other option was trying out a peach and rosemary sorbet).  I put together a small crumble so Ron and I could enjoy it with few leftovers. Most of my crumble recipes stem off of my great-grandmother's dutch apple pie recipe. I find that there are few things in life better than a good buttery crumble.  I absolutely loved this crumble and I was pleased that the mint was not too strong. I (Ron too) was a bit nervous that the mint would overpower the flavor of the peaches.  

I gave Kellen a tiny bit of the fresh peaches and he really enjoyed it! I was extremely pleased because he has not been a fast friend of some of the foods we have tried so far. I am thinking it is a texture thing (he hates our homemade purees) and his desire to feed himself. Ron says that he is definitely our child- headstrong and independent. However, if anyone has any advice or experience with babies sensitive to new textures I appreciate your stories. 

 Big thanks to Kristen for hosting this great challenge. If you are interested in joining the Improv Cooking Challenge check out Kristen's blog Frugal Antics of A Harried Homemaker for more details


Ingreidents

4 Peaches, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbl sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 Tbl brown sugar
1 Tbl ground almonds (optional) 
6 Tbl flour


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Toss peaches with mint and lemon juice. Scoop peaches into a small baking dish (I used a 9" oval au gratin). Sprinkle with 1 Tbl sugar and cinnamon. 

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugars. Stir in the almonds. Add flour 1 Tbl at a time and gently stir to incorporate (you can use more or less flour depending on how you prefer the texture of your crumble). 

Evenly pour the crumble over the peaches. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is slightly brown. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Patriotic Poke Cake

I know 4th of July is over and I am late to the party with this dessert, but I had to share it because it was so yummy. I have made different versions of poke cake before, but I wanted to make one for July 4th. The original recipe comes from Kraft, but I adjusted it to make a more festive cake! With all of the summer berries coming into season you do not have to make a flag cake....maybe just a bunch of yummy berries! I used two colors (red and blue) in my cake, but you can use just one packet of jello if you go with one color. This was a lovely, colorful and festive cake! Perfect for any holiday.... maybe a Packer party? 


Ingredients

1 box white cake mix (+ whatever is needed to make the cake)
1/2 3 oz packet of cherry jello
1/2 3 oz packet of blue jello
1 cups hot water
1 tub cool whip
1 3oz packet vanilla instant pudding
Sliced Strawberries and Blueberries


Instructions

Mix and bake cake according to package directions in a 9x13 baking pan.  Remove cake from oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Poke cake in 1/2- 1 inch intervals. 

Mix each jello with 1/2 cup hot water and stir till dissolved. Pour over cake in patches and try now to mix it (unless you want purple!).  Refrigerate for 3 hours.  When the cake is done in the fridge mix pudding and cool whip together until it thickens. Spread evenly over the cake and top with berries to make a flag design. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Greek Lasagna Skillet

I love casserole type pasta dishes and "one-pot meals". I have been in the mood for lasagna for awhile now, but have not felt like taking the time to put one together. Ron really likes feta cheese and I wanted to make a "greek style" lasagna, but thought it would be great worked in to a stove top meal in efforts to keep our house a little cooler as we enter mid-July.  I used some of my favorite flavors to make a robust pasta dish like tangy feta and briny olives. I also made sure to use enough liquid to allow the noodles to cook and thicken the sauce. This dish came together in a snap and was soooooooo delicious. Ron was so sad when I snagged the last helping to bring with me for lunch the following day.  Needless to say we are going to be making again...and maybe next time I will make a little extra so avoid the lunch battles! 


Ingredients

 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef or lamb (or a mixture of the two)
2 tsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 1/2 Tbl fresh chopped oregano
1 cup red wine
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 lb pasta (I used mufalada because they look like mini lasagna noodles)
2/3 cup sliced kalmata olives
1 14.5 oz can undrained fire roasted tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup ricotta
6 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 cup mozzarella
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Instructions

Brown beef in a dutch over with olive oil. Add onions and garlic. Allow mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add mint, oregano, wine, olives, tomatoes, stock, tomato sauce and pasta. Allow casserole to cook on medium-low covered until noodles are cooked to desired tenderness. Gently stir in ricotta and feta cheese. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Top with mozzarella and cover to melt cheese. Serve with crusty bread and green salad. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 7/15- 7/21

Happy Monday!

Ron and I had a really relaxing weekend...sometimes it is so nice to do absolutely nothing.  Ron is currently attending school and had a lot of tests last week so down time was awesome. We get a laugh out of the fact that he has to do "finals week" again. This week is pretty easy and this weekend a friend is in town and we are going to have a kids playday followed by a girls night. 

Have a great week!

Monday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Salad
Tuesday: Grilled Chipotle BBQ Ranch Chicken, Creamy Quinoa Corn and Salad
Wednesday: Out for Dinner Before Volleyball
Thursday: Balsamic Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Friday: Out for Fish
Saturday: Out to Dinner with The Girls to Blue
Sunday: Stuffed Cheeseburgers and Potato Wedges

Sunday, July 14, 2013

SRC: Strawberry Mango Muffins

Time for July Secret Recipe Club reveal! 

Secret Recipe Club

This month I was assigned C Mom Cook. There were tons of wonderful looking recipes and it made picking one really hard! However, it is strawberry season in Wisconsin and I went on a hunt for a recipe containing them. I came across her recipe for Strawberry Mango Muffins. I love the combination of mango and strawberries and I thought these were perfect for our freshly harvested strawberries. This is a really easy recipe and could easily be made into a loaf if you prefer it to a muffin. I had a little issue with my muffins not rising very much, but I my baking soda is a little old and I think that could be the root of the issue.  Either way, the muffins taste wonderful. I am so happy to have found a new way to enjoy one of my favorite flavor combinations. Thank you Shelley for the delicious recipe!  


Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 mango, diced
1 cup strawberries, diced


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the wells of a 12-well muffin tin.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, egg, vanilla and butter.
Stir the wet ingredients carefully into the dry ingredients, stirring only until just combined. Fold in the diced fruit.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 7/8 - 7/14

I am a touch late with my meal plan this week! We had a great holiday weekend in Door County and loved being away from everything. Spending quality family time feels like such a luxury these days since Ron has been so busy with school. This weekend we have nothing on our agenda, and I am thrilled (plus my house needs a good cleaning).  In baby news, Kellen is going to be 7 months on Thursday.  He is also getting up on all fours and rocking to practice his crawl. I find myself living in a state of denial. I love watching him grown, but hate to see it happen so fast.  Hope everyone is having a lovely week!

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Greek Skillet Lasagna and Salad
Tuesday: Grilled Beer and Brown Sugar Marinated Pork Chops, Wild Rice and Broccoli
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Coconut Curry Shrimp and Veggies, Rice and Salad
Friday: Dinner in Door County
Saturday: Recipe Swap, Grilled Potatoes and Salad
Sunday: Dijon Salmon, Mashed Potatoes, Mushrooms and Peas

Treats: Chocolate Cauliflower Cake and Peach & Mint Crumble for Two (for Improv)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cuba Libre Pork Tacos

Ron and I vacationed in Puerto Rico a few years ago and besides falling in love with plantains we fell more in love with Bacardi (we already loved it...the love just grew).  The Cuba Libre's origins are not entirely known, but what is for sure is that it was originally sipped in Cuba around 1900. When touring the Bacardi factory we were told that it was a toast to newly freed Cuba, but other accounts have stated it was a battle cry. Battle cry or social toast one of my favorite drinks is a Cuba Libre and it is usually my husband's drink of choice. We have been playing around with different types of booze and beer lately and I wanted to try and create a cuba libre style taco.  When I was creating this recipe I was trying to get the sweet flavor of the rum and coke with the fresh flavor of the limes.  Ron and I really loved how the meat turned out. It was juicy, flavorful and hit the notes I was going for. We used really simple topping for our tacos, but you can use whatever you like (just don't forget the fresh lime).  The meat would also be great over rice or as a sandwich (maybe with a citrus mayo).

A perfect meal for us to remember our trip to Puerto Rico and a delicious Cuba Libre cocktail.


Ingredients

3 lb pork roast
1 can of Coke
1/3 cup Bacardi (you can use a different clear rum if you want)
1/2 cup ketchup
Juice and zest of 1 lime (plus an additional lime to squeeze at the end)
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp adobo seasoning
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, scored down the side and left whole
Salt and Pepper
Corn tortilla
Cheese, Sour Cream, Chopped Cilantro (you can top with whatever toppings you like. I used cheese, sour cream and fresh corn)


Instructions

Place pork into crock pot and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, mix coke, rum, ketchup, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, brown sugar and spices. Pour over pork. Add the scored jalapeno to the crockpot. Cover and cook low 7-8 hours.

Remove jalapeno from crockpot and shred pork. Serve in warm corn tortilla, top with desired toppings and squeeze a little fresh lime juice over the top.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Slow Cooker BBQ Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches

I honestly can't say enough about my crockpot. I love it during the summer so my house isn't a sauna and I love it on our busy nights when there isn't enough time to cook. I came across these chicken sandwiches in Pinterest, but they are originally from Cooking Classy. I have been loving pineapple lately and thought it would be delicious to try when my in-laws came for dinner before our volleyball game. The original recipe caramelizes the pineapple slice...I was not that ambitious, but will have to give it a try next time. I loved the flavor of these sandwiches and loved the addition of the coconut extract! My family thought that these sandwiches were absolutely delicious. I can't wait to make these again and I would love to give them a try with the caramelized pineapple ring (or maybe a sliced of cheese?).

In other news Kellen has a tooth, *Sniff*, and I am still in denial that he was not born last week.


Ingredients

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
3 tsp molasses
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Pineapple Rings and Green Onions


Instructions

Place chicken in a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker. In a mixing bowl, whisk together ketchup, pineapple juice, low sodium soy sauce, honey, molasses, coconut extract, ginger, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Pour sauce over chicken in slow cooker, cover with lid and cook on low heat for 5 - 6 hours. Remove chicken from slow cooker, shred and set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together cold water and cornstarch, pour in sauce from slow cooker and add tomato paste. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently, then reduce heat and simmer 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until thickened. Return chicken to slow cooker (or the mixing bowl) and pour sauce over chicken, toss to evenly coat. Serve warm on hamburger buns and top with pineapple rings and green onions.

Weekly Meal Plan 7/1 - 7/7

Happy Monday and horray for a short week! I am off after Wednesday and am really excited for a short week and extra family time. I don't have a ton to say today, but here is what is on tap:

Monday: Mushroom Swiss Burgers (Cheddar and Bacon for Ron), Grilled Potatoes and Salad
Tuesday: Bacon, Pesto and Swiss Stuffed Pork Chops, Rice and Grilled Veggies
Wednesday: BBQ Chicken, Creamy Corn Quinoa and Grilled Veggies
Thursday: Happy 4th of July! We are in Door County enjoying BBQ Ribs, Ron's Potato Salad, Rootbeer Baked Beans, Toss Salad and Patriotic Poke Cake
Friday: Out to Dinner to the Whistling Swan in Fish Creek
Saturday: Brats, Macaroni Salad and Baked Beans
Sunday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Salad