Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wagon Wheel Taco Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are a favorite of mine, but I don't make them often because it seems like we can never eat them fast enough! I also find myself always making the same old pasta salad. My work was having a potluck and I wanted to try a new pasta salad recipe. I brought the question to my What's Cooking board and received all sorts of new recipes to try.  Bridget of The Way Thee Cookie Crumbles posted a recipe for Taco Pasta Salad and it sounded so delicious! I made a few changes to the original recipe to suit my tastes and I though the result was wonderful! Like Bridget, the idea of using salsa in a pasta salad was new to me, but I was super happy I tried this recipe. My co-workers all loved this pasta salad and thankfully this recipe makes a large amount.  This is a great recipe to try if you are looking for a new type of pasta salad. 


Ingredients

1 lb wagon wheel pasta
1 (10 oz) package frozen corn
1 1/2 cups salsa (I used medium heat)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2  cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3-4 tablespoons lime juice
1 large avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste
¼ cup olive oil


Instructions

 Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook according to the package directions. Drain; stir the frozen corn into the pasta to cool the pasta and defrost the corn. Stir the salsa into the pasta and corn, then add the beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and cheese.

Squeeze the lime juice into a small bowl and add the avocado; stir to coat the avocado. Remove the avocado from the lime juice and stir it into the pasta mixture. Add the spices, garlic, and salt to the lime juice, then slowly whisk in the oil. Stir the dressing into the salad. Serve immediately or chill for up to 1 day (longer if you don’t add the avocado).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 8/26 - 9/1

Um...where did summer go?? When I looked at the calendar today and saw it was the last week of August I almost couldn't believe it!  These past few weeks have flown by and I can't believe fall is around the corner.  Fall is my favorite season and I am really excited to have our first fall with Kellen. I absolutely adore Halloween and am already looking for different Halloween costumes.  I am also looking forward to pumpkin patches, our annual trip to the Zoo Boo, apple picking, warm cider and fall baking.

This week is is pretty low key which, after 2 very busy weeks, is a happy change. This weekend we are headed to Door County and a wedding on Sunday evening.

Hope everyone has a lovely week! 

Monday: Beef Chili
Tuesday: Crockpot Curry Chicken, Rice and Broccoli
Wednesday: Leftover Chili
Thursday: Creamy Crockpot Italian Chicken, Egg Noodles and Broccoli
Friday: Door County
Saturday: Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce and Salad
Sunday: Shelly and Jason's Wedding

Friday, August 23, 2013

Recipe Swap: Grilled Corn Avocado and Tomato Salad

Time for August WC Recipe Swap! 


The theme for this month is summer salads. I submitted my recipe for Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad and received  Grilled Corn Salad from Kate's Recipe Box. I was excited to receive the recipe because it come at the perfect time when corn and tomatoes are in season in Wisconsin.  I used fresh tomatoes from our garden and fresh local corn from a roadside stand. I made a few changed to the recipe because I wanted the flavors of the tomatoes and corn to dominate. The original recipe calls for lime juice and zest. Ron and I are not always big lime fans outside of marinates (and drinks!) so I opted to leave the lime out of the salad. I also left out the onion because I had a roasted onion olive oil I wanted to use. Had I not used the onion oil I would have added 1/4 cup of diced red onion.  Ron and I loved this corn salad. The grilled for smelled delicious and was wonderfully sweet.  I was very happy that I left out the lime but I am sure that it would be delicious if you decided to go that route.  I also increased the amount of corn because it is so good right now and I wanted a little bit of a corn heavy salad. 

Tonight we are having dinner with my parents.  My mom recently went to Iceland for a horseback riding trip and I can't wait to hear all about her adventures. She trained pretty hard prior to leaving because there were some days that they road 8-9 hours!  Tomorrow we are going to a bachelor/bachelorette party for Ron's cousin. Kellen is going to have some auntie/cousin time with my sister Rachel and nephew Gabriel. Thank you to Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking for putting together our swaps! 


Ingredients

7 ear of corn, shucked
2 avocados, cubed
2 cups (1 pint) cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 olive oil (I used a roasted onion flavored)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Instructions

Grill the corn until starting to char. Allow to cool slightly then remove the kernels from the cob with a knife. Combine the corn, avocado, tomatoes in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add to corn mixture and gently toss to mix. 
Serve warm.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Orange Pesto Skirt Steak

Grilling is one of the major perks of summer at our house. Ron and I grill year round, snow and all, but there  is something about summer that make grilling more fun. We love to crack open a cold beer and take in the smells and tastes of summer. I saw this recipe on Plain Chicken's blog and thought it sounded different and delicious. It was also a perfect opportunity to use some of our frozen pesto!  Ron and I had never grilled skirt steak before, but it turned out great. I like that it cooks so quickly because that is a big plus on a weeknight! I really loved the flavor from the marinate, but I really didn't taste to much of the orange juice (maybe adding a little zest would make the flavor more intense).  I served this with mashed potatoes and my swap recipe (revealed tomorrow).  This was a fantastic (and affordable) quick weeknight steak dinner. 


Ingredients

1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup pesto 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 lb skirt steak


Instructions

Combine orange juice, pesto, salt and garlic. Pour over skirt steak and let marinate in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight.  Heat grill to high and grill steak 2-3 min minutes per side (I would not recommend cooking skirt steak over medium temperature because it can get chewy).  Remove meat from grill and allow it to rest for a few minutes.  To slice, cut each piece of skirt into a 3 to 4 inch section with the grain. Then, slice each of those sections into thin strips about 1/2- 3/4 inch thick against the grain. Serve immediately. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BLT Carbonara

I love carbonara and had not made it at home until recently.  I saw this recipe for BLT carbonara on Katie's blog So Tasty, So Yummy.   This year Ron and I started our own garden and have lots of delicious tomatoes. We have mad BLTs a few time, but this pasta immediately caught my eye and I couldn't wait to make it! The recipe is very simple to put together. I made a few minor changes by increasing the bacon *oink* and wine *glug*.  Ron and I both loved this pasta and practically licked our plates clean. I love that I can use some of our homegrown veggies and herbs for this dish.  

Poor Kellen is getting his front teeth and he is not a happy camper. I am hoping these sucks pop up soon so the little guy can get some relief! 


Ingredients

3 egg yolks
¼ cup heavy creamy
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Fresh chopped parsley 
1 lb bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 lb spaghetti
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves


Instructions

Whisk together the eggs, cream, Parmesan and parsley together in a bowl. In a large non stick pan, fry the bacon until crisp and set aside. While bacon cooks, cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain all but 2 Tbl of the bacon grease; sauté the onion for 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.

While still warm, add  pasta to the onions. Pour cream mixture into the spaghetti, and stir over low heat for one minute. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 the bacon and spinach and stir for an additional minute more over low heat. Top with remaining bacon and serve with additional Parmesan.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 8/19-8/25

Sometimes if feels like a week goes by so fast! I feel like we were on fast forward last week and am hoping to relax a little more this week. 

Ron and I went camping with our volleyball team this past weekend. As stated before- I am not a camper. However, I ended up having an awesome time with everyone. I am still not a fan of the whole sleeping outside thing, but that was such a small part of the weekend it really didn't matter.  I tried pudgy pies for the first time and am in love! They are awesome and I want a maker so we can have them at home around our fire pit. We made pizza pudgies, but there are so many combos to try! 

This week Ron finishes up his summer school semester. He has been working really hard and a break will be nice until after Labor Day. This week we have volleyball and Ron's cousin Stacy's bachelorette party on Saturday. I am looking forward to a girl's night. They are also getting a bus to drive us around so everyone can kick back and have a safe ride home.  On Sunday it is the Fireman chili competition. Ron and I look forward to this every year and I can't wait to sample some chili! 

Have a great week! Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Mexican Meatballs, Rice, Beans and Swap Dish
Tuesday: Orange Pesto Skirt Steak, Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Curry Coconut Shrimp with Rice
Friday: BBQ with my Parents
Saturday:  Bachelorette Party!
Sunday: Beef Chili 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crockpot Boozy Beef Sandwiches with Horseradish Scallion Sauce

I love shredded beef sandwiches. It is somewhat of a staple in Wisconsin at potlucks and family get together. I love trying different variations and mixes for the sandwiches. My requirements are pretty simple- no dry sandwiches and I love a slice of cheese with sliced pickles piled on top.  Most hot beef sandwiches (my traditional recipe) use a cream based soup, but I like to try other flavor combos.  I wanted to incorporate beer and booze into the sandwich for no other reason that I think beer is great for crockpot dishes and can hold flavors well.  However, if you are not a fan of beer you certainly could use beef stock.  I wanted to add a little something extra to the sandwiches and I stirred up the horseradish scallion sauce. You certainly could eat it plain, but the sauce is delicious and adds a creamy element to the sandwich. 

Ron and I really enjoyed these sandwiches. I actually can't wait to make them again for an upcoming Packer game.  I think my entire family will love them! 

This weekend Ron and I are going camping with our volleyball team. I am not a camper. My idea of camping is staying at out cottage on Lake Michigan in Door County. I love the outdoors, but I hate the whole sleeping outside thing. I am guessing I have to lean on my good friend beer for something other than my crockpot this weekend..... Sleeping outside aside- I am super excited to be with friends! 


Ingredients

for beef:
3-4 lb Beef Chuck Roast
1 bottle light beer
1/3 cup whiskey
1 can french onion soup
1 jalapeno, scored
1 Tbl brown sugar
Salt and Pepper, to taste

for sauce:
2/3 cup mayo
2 Tbl thinly sliced scallions
1/2 Tbl prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp black pepper

Sliced Provolone Cheese
Sliced Pickles
Buns


Instructions

Place roast into crockpot and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, mix beer, whiskey, soup and sugar. Pour over beef and add jalapeno. 

Cook on low 8-9 hours. Remove jalapeno and shred beef. Season with salt and pepper. 

In a small bowl, mix mayo, scallions, pepper and horseradish. 

Spread sauce on both sides of the bun. Add beef and top with cheese and pickles. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sriracha Beef Tacos

By this time it should not be a surprise that I love me some Mexican food.  Ron and I are both taco fanatics and nothing is better than a basket of warm chips and spicy salsa.  I originally saw these tacos awhile ago on Jaida's blog, Sweet Beginnings and then on Sarah's blog A Taste of Home Cooking. Each time I saw the recipe I thought to myself, "I need to make those!".  When I finally did make them I was very pleased with the results.  The tacos are flavorful and spicy from the Sriracha, but it is not overpowering and keeps balanced from the creamy ranch dressing.  Ron declared that these were his new favorite tacos. I can't wait to put them back on our menu again!

Tonight is a crazy night for volleyball.....we play in an outdoor league in the summer and are transitioning to indoor for the falls. However, the summer league started a little late that the past two weeks have resulted in 2 games on Wednesday night. Last week we played at 6:20 and 7:00....that made for a exhausting evening. Tonight we play at 5:20 and 7:00...I am thankful for a little break in between even if it is small!  After this week we are only playing once on Wednesday...whew! 


Ingredients

1 lb lean ground sirloin
1 Tbl olive oil
 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ cup water
2 Tbl chili powder
1 Tbl cumin
 4 Tbl Sriracha, divided
½  cup ranch dressing
 8-10 Taco Shells (we used corn)
 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  2 cups shredded lettuce
Sliced Black Olives
Chopped Cilantro


Instructions

Combine ranch and 2 Tbl of Sriracha in a small bowl and set aside. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and onion and cook for 1-2 minutes, until softened. Add beef, stir to combine, and cook until browned.  Add water, chili powder, cumin and 2 Tbsp Sriracha to sirloin mixture. Stir, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. While taco mixture finishes cooking, Warm taco shells; Spoon taco mixture into shells and top with Sriracha sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomato, olives and cilantro.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 8/12- 8/18

Happy Monday!

Ron and I had a great weekend. My In-laws were kind enough to have Kellen stay over on Saturday and Ron and I went out to dinner and out for a few drinks. It felt great to get out and about for the evening.  On Sunday,  my sister and I went to see The Conjuring. I am now afraid of my house. I don't really believe in ghosts, but this movie was really creepy!!! Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.... 

This week is a little busy. We are playing volleyball at two bars this week and that makes for a busy Wednesday night! I am also meeting my good friend Emily for dinner on Tuesday. We are going to a great pizza place called Rustique. 

Here is what is on tap: 
Monday: BLT Carbonara and Salad
Tuesday: Out to Dinner with my Friend Emily
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Creamy Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken Sausage
Friday: Out for Dinner with My Dad
Saturday: Camping with our Volleyball Team
Sunday: Mexican Meatballs, Rice and Black Beans

Extras: Taco Pasta Salad for a work function

Sunday, August 11, 2013

SRC: Monster Cookies

Time for August Secret Recipe Club reveal! 

Secret Recipe Club

This month I was given Jen's Journey. Jen has a variety of different recipes and it gave me lots to pick from. I have seen different variations of monster cookies floating around, but never had a chance to make them for myself. I love m&m candy in cookies so I figured that it would be a hit. Jen's Monster Cookies and full of delicious ingredients like nuts, candy, chocolate chips, oatmeal and even rice krispies. I loved the rice krispies in the cookies because they gave a great crunch to what is a pretty dense cookie. The only variation I made (besides a few different measurements) was to use rolled oat over quick oats and I cut it down to 1 cup.  The cookies turned out great and I would do this again because we don't usually have quick oats on hand. Ron and I both loved these cookies- we felt bad eating them in front of Kellen! Thank you Jen for a great treat! 

Speaking of the baby- he is doing well. He is still working on standing. He is also loving screaming "contests", aka he yells at us and laughs. I am loving his sense of humor!


Monster Cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks of Butter,  Softened
1/2 cup White Sugar
1-1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
2  Large Eggs
1 1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons  Salt
1 cup Rolled Oats
2/3 cup M & M'S
1/2 cup Pecans, Chopped
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups Rice Krispies


Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter with sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and  beat till smooth.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to mixing bowl and mix till combined. 

Fold in candy, chocolate, oatmeal, and nuts. Finally, gently mix in the rice krispies. 

Use a cookie scoop to scoop balls of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, then allow to cool on a rack.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Southwestern BLT

Ron and I love BLTs in the summer. I remember as a kid eating them at least once a week when the weather started to get warm. This time of year is the perfect BLT eating time because the tomatoes are plump, juicy and sweet. I wanted to try a twist on a traditional favorite. I saw a few recipes for Southwest style BLTs on other blogs and I wanted to put my own recipe together. The key to this sandwich is the chipotle mayo. Adding the lime (fresh is best!) juice and cilantro produces a spicy, but fresh spread for your sandwiches.  Fresh sweet tomatoes, salty and smokey bacon, creamy avocado and crisp lettuce make this an awesome sandwich!  Ron and I liked them so much we each ate two. Yum! 

This weekend Ron and I are going on a dinner date and my in-laws are watching the wee-one. I am looking forward to some husband and wife time....and a little bar hopping! 


Ingredients

8 slices of bread
8 strips of thick cut bacon
Romaine lettuce 
8 ripe tomato slices
8 avocado slices
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
 1/4 cup mayo
1 chipotle pepper in adobo + 1 tsp adobo sauce
1 Tbl fresh lime juice


Instructions

In a food processor, combine mayo, pepper, adobo, lime juice and cilantro. Pulse to smooth and blended.  Set a side. 

Cook bacon till crisp. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain the fat. 

Lightly toast the bread. 

To assemble the sandwich, spread the chipotle mayo evenly on each piece of bread. Add bacon, avocado, tomato and lettuce. Finish with the remaining bread slice. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chorizo, Black Bean and Quinoa Bake

Do you ever have one of those dinners where you can't stop thinking about how yummy it was?  This was one of those dinners. I saw a few taco style quinoa bakes on Pinterest and decided that I wanted to try out my own version.  This is not really taco...I would call it "southwest".  The quinoa made a great casserole and the leftover were outstanding! The fresh garnishes cut the heat and provided a little herbiness (is that a word?) to the dish.  I think this would be equally delicious with chicken or beef, but there is something extra special about the flavor the chorizo brings to the casserole. 

Chorizo is a good thing to post about today because it is my husband's favorite and today is our anniversary.  7 years together, 2 years married and baby boy Kellen. 
He is the pepper to my salt. 
syrup to my pancakes
mustard to my brat
and a basket of cheese curds on top!
I love you. 


Ingredients

1 lb ground chorizo
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 cup corn
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 4 oz can diced green chilies
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 10 oz can enchilada sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese
Sour Cream, Sliced Olives, Chopped Tomatoes and Cilantro


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place quinoa and beef stock into a small pot. Simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Brown chorizo in a large rimmed skillet.  Add beans, corn, tomatoes and chilies. Stir in quinoa. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray (I used a deep 8x8). Pour chorizo mixture into the dish. Pour enchilada sauce over the casserole and top with cheddar cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with sour cream, olives, fresh tomatoes and cilantro. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 8/5 - 8/11

Happy Monday!

This weekend was a blast! Ron and I relaxed on Friday night and headed up to Door County on Saturday. We went to the county fair and to The Farm. Kellen thought both places were a blast. It was so fun to take him to The Farm again because he is becoming more aware of the animals. When I was a kid we use to go to The Farm every weekend and I am so excited to be able to share it with him. If you are ever in Door County, Wisconsin make sure to stop by The Farm with your little ones.  This week is our wedding anniversary. Gah! The bakery, Alpha Delight, we got our cake from does small cakes for reasonable prices...perfect for celebrating each year (and no frozen cake!).  We are also going out on Saturday to celebrate- just the two of us.  This week also marks the start of football season!!!!! I can't wait to see the Packers kick some ass....hopefully even more ass than last year. 

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Feast with the Beast at the Zoo
Tuesday: Anniversary Night! Grilled Steaks, Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Green Beans....and cake too!
Wednesday: Tuna Melts, Potato Wedges and Broccoli
Thursday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Apple Pie for my Mom's birthday
Friday: Go Pack Go!!!!! Cabernet Burgers, Pasta Salad and Fruit Salad
Saturday: Out for Dinner
Sunday:  Shrimp with Creamy Pesto and Feta Sauce Over Penne and Salad

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Ahhhh...berry season.  One of my personal favorites along with apple season. I love baking/cooking with seasonal and fresh products. I was very excited when I found a large box of freshly picked blueberries at one of the farm stands on my way home from work. Ron, unfortunately, is not a fan of berries, but that just means there is more for me!  I was having a few girlfriends and kids over and I knew that these muffins would be a perfect snack. The recipe very easy and the flavors of the muffins are delicious. The recipe does not result in an overly sweet and some of the kids were hoping for a little bit more of a sugary treat. However, the adults thought flavors were delicious. 

This week Ron and I had to lower Kellen's mattress because he is starting to pull himself up *sniff*.  My baby is getting to be such a little boy.  Kellen has also started liking different finger foods. He loves cantaloupe and peas. It makes me so happy to see him starting to enjoy and explore the flavors of whole foods. People will often ask about Kellen eating solids and the truth is I never have wanted to push it because he was so hesitant when we first tried a few. It makes me happy that our hands-off approach and allowing him to lead has worked for the best.  Baby food making was/is something very exciting to me (maybe next time!), but Kellen does not like purees and prefers to feed himself. I wonder if this will be a clue as to his personality in the future? 


Ingredients

3 large ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour


Instructions

Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and egg. Add butter and blueberries.

Combine dry ingredients and gently stir into banana mixture.

Pour into 12 well-greased muffin cups (or use liners).

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes