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.

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)

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. 


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


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! 


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


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. 

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 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! 


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 


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!  


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.


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 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!


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


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! 


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


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