Monday, June 30, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 6/30 - 7/6

Happy Monday and thank goodness for a short holiday week.....

This weekend was beautiful and without a drop of rain (even thought it was predicted over and over again).  My cousin is getting married next month and his wife to be celebrated her wedding shower on Saturday.  My mom and aunt threw a lovely shower and it was filled with games, gifts and macaroons.  My other cousin and her daughter are in town this week and are joining us in Door County for the 4th of July weekend. Kellen loves having other kids around and it is so fun to watch them interact.

This week we are cleaning out the fridge for lunches and making easy meals in preparation of our trip.  I am so excited for a relaxing weekend with family! One of the big anticipations of this summer is a trip the The Farm in Sturgeon Bay.  It is an operational farm and museum.  Kellen loves farm animals and tractors right now, and i can hardly wait to see how much fun he has exploring.   I am also getting excited about my favorite part of 4th of July- fireworks. My sister and I love to go and buy a bunch to light off. We are right on the beach and have neighbors that put on great shows.  Kellen was too young to notice fireworks last year, and Iam curious to see how he does this year (hoping he loves it!)

Here is what's on tap:

Monday: Grilled Polish Sausage, Sauerkraut and Leftover Salads from Saturdays Cook Out
Tuesday: Out to S.A.L.T
Wednesday: Pizza Enchiladas and Salad
Thursday: Door County
Friday: Door County
Saturday: Door County
Sunday: TBA

Friday, June 27, 2014

Grilled BBQ Chicken With Brown Sugar Onions

The weekend always makes me feel like grilling and I thought this was a perfect time to share this recipe for a fabulous chicken sandwich. Sarah of  A Taste of Home Cooking posted this recipe a few weeks ago, and it immediately put it on our meal plan.  

Ron and I are not normally big fans of chicken, but I can't pass up grilled BBQ chicken.  Paired with the sweet onions and cheddar cheese I knew that these would be a hit. 

The original recipe calls for a cup of Italian dressing, but I followed Sarah's lead and used a homemade version for the marinade. I also opted to saute my onions and allow them to slightly caramelized over grilling them. I wanted them to be a little softer and get a bit of natural sweetness. 

The verdict? We absolutely loved this sandwich. The onions are so yummy with the bbq sauce.  The sandwich is a bit sweet, but we both really liked it. Next time I want to add thinly sliced jalapeno to the onions for a little kick to pair with the sweet onions. 

Great for a weeknight or a cook out with friends. This is a perfect sandwich to add to you summer grilling menu and to impress your guests!

Tonight we are headed to dinner with my family for fish fry and chicken- yum! 



Grilled BBQ Chicken With Brown Sugar Onions

Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
dash of seasoned salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons chili powder
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl Water
2/3 cup BBQ sauce (We use Stubb's)

for onions:
1-2 large sweet Vidalia onions, sliced into  rings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

4 slices of cheddar cheese
4 buns
Sliced pickles 
Mayo


Instructions

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, water, seasonings, Worcestershire, orange juice, and chili powder. Place the chicken and marinade into a large resealable bag, close the bag, and toss to combine. Marinate at least 8 hours.

Heat 2 Tbl olive oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook slowly till soft are slightly caramelized. Add sugar, salt and pepper. Allow the sugar to melt and warm for about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and cover to keep warm. 

Heat grill to medium heat. Remove chicken from the bag and discard excess marinade.  Grill chicken about 5 minutes per side (or till cooked through). Finally, brush chicken with BBQ sauce on each side. Top the chicken with sliced cheese and allow if to melt and remove from the grill. 

 Serve each chicken breast in a bun topped with a pile of onions, extra BBQ sauce, pickles and mayonnaise.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Baked Brownie

Who doesn't love a good brownie?  

Ron requested brownies on Father's Day and I immediately started searching for different recipes.  I have few favorites of ours posted such as Oreo Truffle Brownies, Salted Fudge Brownies and Bodacious Brownies. However, I wanted to find something different for us to try. I went to my cooking board and Baked Brownies were recommended multiple times. The recipe sounded delicious and easy- perfect baking combo in my mind. 

This recipe is out of this world delicious. The brownies are so rich and chocolaty it is impossible to eat just one.  My husband was so excited to practically drooled on them as they cooled in the pan, and they were still pretty warm when he snagged one for the first taste.  I followed recommendations from Josie of Pink Parsley and made sure to get a good quality chocolate, and it certainly was for the better! There is really nothing I can add besides saying these brownies are sinful. If you like a little sin in your life like do make sure give these a try- either for yourself or, if you want to share, your special someone. 

Tonight is a workout night for me (how appropriate after a brownie post) and then we are heading to Appleton for my friend Amanda's Assembly fundraiser.  She is such a classy lady and an awesome friend I am excited that we are able to support her to her win in November. 


The Baked Brownie
From Pink Parsley and barely adapted from Baked, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs Dutch process cocoa powder
11 oz dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
2 tsp instant coffee 
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter the sides of a 9x13 inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.

Combine the chopped chocolate, butter, and instant coffee in a large microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave the ingredients at 20-30 second intervals, stirring well after each time.  When the chocolate is melted, whisk in the granulated and brown sugars.  The mixture should be room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.  Add the remaining 2 eggs and the vanilla, and whisk until just incorporated.  

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate and use a spatula to fold it into the chocolate mixture, stopping when just a little flour is still visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time.  When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs sticking to it, remove the brownies from the oven.   

Cool completely, then cut into squares.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 6/22 - 6/29

Happy Tuesday (I am a day late!). 

This past weekend was very relaxing and much needed after a crazy three day work conference! Ron, Kellen and I grilled, played in the yard and went to Bay Beach with friends.  This week we have volleyball, our good friend Amanda's State Assembly fundraiser and my cousin's wedding shower. I am keeping my fingers crossed for warm weather on Sunday so we can get to the beach.  Another cousin and her daughter are staying with my parents for the week and coming to Door County with us next weekend. I know that Kellen is going to love all the cousin time!

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday:  Bacon Pieorogie Bake and Green Beans
Tuesday: Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Brown Sugar Onions and Grilled Potato Veggie Packets
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Out for Fundraiser
Friday: Out for Fish
Saturday: Grilled Brats, Potato Salad, Beans and Fruit
Sunday: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce with Garlic Bread

Friday, June 20, 2014

Crunchy Baked Beef Tacos

Another Pinterest recipe strikes our kitchen! 

This recipe has popped up a bunch of times in friends interest boards and with a few bloggers. We absolutely love tacos night at our house and I thought this was a fun spin. We eat tacos a lot on the weeknights because they are so easy to put together and work great for salads at next days lunch. 

Normally, I use my own taco seasoning with crunchy shells, but I decided to add it a cup of black bean and corn salsa for a little extra spice and flavor.  Ron and I both agreed that the filling was flavorful with the perfect amount of kick from the salsa.  I used our normal taco toppings, but you could use anything you like to suits your tastes.  I have to admit that I had issues arranging the tacos in the baking dish, but once they were all full of meat they balance much better. 

The tacos come out of the oven warm, crunchy and delicious.  The cheese is nice and melted and the toppings give a nice crunch and freshness. We had enough for leftover for lunch the next day. The leftover are not as good as fresh, but I did not mind them because we chopped up the tacos and made a taco salad.

I have been away for the past few days at a work conference and can't wait to get home to be with my two favorite boys!   


Ingredients

1 1/4 lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 cup black bean and corn salsa
2 1/2 Tbl Taco Seasoning or 1 packet
1/2 cup water
12 hard shell tacos
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup sliced black olives
Shredded Lettuce
Sour Cream


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Brown beef in a large rimmed skillet until no longer pink. Add salsa, water and taco seasoning. Cover simmer for about 3-5 minutes or until liquid has been reduced. 

Add meat to the taco shells and arrange in a 9x13 baking dish. I find that 9 across and 3 on the side worked best to keep everything upright. 

Sprinkle cheese in taco taco. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven. Add lettuce, tomato, avocado, olives and sour cream to tacos. 

Serve warm and enjoy!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Strawberry Basil Shortcake

Time for June's Improv Cooking Challenge! 

The theme for this month was berries and cream.  We love berries in our house and a little cream on top is an extra treat! Needless to say I was excited to come up with something our challenge.  I have been wanting to try making strawberry shortcake for awhile because I never made it before. I was looking for something simple, but tasty since I had not made it before and am still a bit of a cautious baker.  I went to my online cooking board and this Betty Crocker recipe was recommended.  To put my own spin on the recipe I decided that basil was a must. I am a big fan of strawberry and basil together and I thought it would be a perfect twist on this traditional treat. I added basil to the strawberries and to the biscuits. The flavors of strawberry and basil were excellent with the rich cream.  I also added a bit of our homemade vanilla extract to the cream for a little extr

I shared this dessert with my family and we gobbled it down at record speed. I can't wait to make it again!

If you want to join the fun of the Improv Cooking Challenge visit Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for details! 

Next month's theme is popcorn and peanuts- I can't decide if I am thinking of going to towards the ball park, or going towards Thai flavors....decisions decisions....


Ingredients

4 cups strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbl finely chopped fresh basil
2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk (I used whole milk)
3 Tbl sugar
3 Tbl butter, melted
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Instructions

Heat oven to 425°F. 

In large bowl, mix strawberries, 2 Tbl of basil and 1/4 cup sugar and set aside.

In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/8 cup basil and the butter until soft dough forms. 

On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by 6 spoonfuls. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. 

In small bowl, beat whipping cream and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped cream.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cheesy Sausage Tortellini

Some nights it feels like I have time to make an involved meal for our family, and some night it feels like there is hardly time to boil water!  I originally found this recipe on Pinterest, but it has been slowly circling the blogosphere.  It is wonderfully easy and a complete relief on a bust week night.  Ron, Kellen and I loved this meal (Kellen loved the sausage the most!). It was ready in under 30 minutes with minimal dishes. The creamy tomato sauce with the pasta and sausage is delicious! It is everything a weeknight meal needs to be: quick, easy and filling (a bonus is leftover for lunch the next day!). 

Tonight I finally get to go to my weight training class after missing from our vacation! I am really excited, but know my muscles are going to be sore tomorrow! 


Cheesy Sausage Tortellini

Ingredients

2 Tbl olive oil
1 lb smoked turkey sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup tomato sauce 
1/2 cup heavy cream
9 oz cheese tortellini
salt and pepper to taste


Ingredients

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large rimmed skillet over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Add sausage and cook until browned. Add garlic and stir until golden and fragrant, about 20-30 seconds.

Add broth, tomato sauce, cream, tortellini, and salt and pepper and stir to combine until simmering and bubbly.

Cover and simmer over low heat for 12 minutes until tortellini are tender and sauce has reduced.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 6/16 - 6/22

Happy Monday! 

This weekend was so much fun. On Friday, Kellen and I met our friends at the park and followed it by ice cream.  This turned into a very messy evening for Kellen. On the way to get ice cream he spilled his entire water bottle on himself and, being the always prepared person, I did not have an extra set of clothing.  Kellen wore his raincoat to get ice cream with is now a pleasant shade of chocolate brown- he cracks me up.  The important part was to fun and he had lots of that! On Saturday, we went to Bay Beach, a small local amusement park, with a few friends. It was Kellen's first time riding the rides and he loved it! The all time favorite was the lady bug ride.  Sunday was Father's Day and we started with brunch at S.A.L.T. with my family. Ron had a delicious chorizo hash and I had an eggs benedict with mustard beer hollandaise- yum! The remainder of the day was spent relaxing and playing outside. Kellen took a late nap and we decided to sneak over to Bay Beach to use the rest of our tickets and it was just as fun as the first time. Once we got home Kellen went to bed (he was soooo tired) and we grilled Ribeye steak and ate brownies.  

Amazing weekend.

This week is pretty hectic because I will be out of town for work Wedensday- Friday. Ron and Kellen will be on their own, but I know they will manage just fine. This coming weekend we are going to take it easy, but are hoping to go tubing down the river with a few friends on Saturday. 

Have a great week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Crunchy Baked Tacos, Rice and Beans
Tuesday: Crabcake Sandwiches, Old Bay Oven Fries and Salad
Wednesday: OOT for work
Thursday: OOT for work
Friday: Grilled Brats, Grilled Bacon Wrapped Corn, Baked Beans and Cottage Cheese
Saturday: Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Brown Sugar Onions and Grilled Potato Veggie Packets
Sunday: Orange Pesto Skirt Steak and Grilled Corn Avocado and Tomato Salad

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Blue Cheese Topped Pork Chops

I participate in a cooking board with a lovely bunch of ladies/bloggers. There is a daily post for dinner blog updates and I love scrolling the list to look for new recipes for us to try.  Kylee, author of Kylee Cooks, posted this recipe for Blue Cheese Topped Pork Chops and I was immediately sold.  Ron and I absolutely love blue cheese and are pretty guaranteed to like anything that it is in.  I loved that this recipe was so quick to prep and cook- perfect for a weeknight. Kylee's recipe recommends either broil or pan fry. I opted to fry the pork chops in a bit of olive oil prior to broiling with the blue cheese topping.  For the topping we used fresh chives from our garden for a little bite. I did not do it this time, but I may mix a bit of Dijon mustard in to the topping or brushed on the pork chop next time because I love mustard and blue cheese together.  Broiling the pork chops with the topping gives a delicious cheese crust on top of a juicy pork chop- delicious! Ron, Kellen and I loved this meal! Kellen loved picking the blue cheese crumbles off the top of his chops (he has been a blue cheese lover since he tried the stuff!). 

If you are looking for a delicious weeknight recipe give this a try! 


Ingredients

4 boneless pork chops, 3/4-inch thick
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled 
1 cup soft bread crumbs (make by throwing some bread into a food processor)
2 tsp chives, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tsp olive oil, divided


Instructions

Stir together bread crumbs, cheese, chives, 1 tsp oil, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat a skillet with 2 tsp of olive oil and add pork chops once the oil is hot.  Cook 3-4 minutes per side and remove from pan.  Place pork chops on a broiler pan or a oven safe cooking dish lined with foil.

Spread crumb mixture evenly on chops and press into the pork chops. Broil about 2 minutes or until crumbs are browned and cheese starts to melt (make sure to watch because they can burn quickly).

Remove from heat and let rest for 2 minutes before serving

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 6/8 - 6/15

Happy Monday! 

We are back in Wisconsin after an amazing trip to France. We absolutely loved France, but are happy to come back to the comforts of home. 

We left on 5/26 at 5:45 pm and arrived in Paris 5/27 at 9:00 am.  The flight went really well and Kellen was a gem. I followed advice from follow parents and came armed with books, toys, games, new apps and food.  I found that Kellen was happiest with different foods and new books.....I think I read Red Truck 50 times on the flights, but I had a happy child! 

Upon arrival, we got our rental car and headed to Gif-sur-Yvette to our home, Le Moulin.  The property is managed and held by Landmark Trust. We have stayed in a few Landmark properties in England and this was lovely. I highly recommend trying one if you enjoy historical properties and would like something different than a hotel.  We were traveling with my parents, sister, sister's boyfriend, aunt and cousin and the space was perfect for us. 

After a few days, Ron and I (Kellen stayed with my parents) headed to Normandy. We stayed at Arromanches-les-Bains on Gold Beach.  I previously traveled to Normandy, but this was on Ron's bucket list for a long time. While in Normandy we visited the D-Day landing beaches, D-Day landing museum on Omaha Beach, American Cemetery, Pegasus Bridge, Bunkers, Bayeaux and Claude Monet's home and gardens. We were very moved by everything we saw and felt like we only scratched the surface. We enjoyed delicious meals (I will do a post on the food next) and ended our evening a a small old style pub (the only one in town) with our two Irish drinking buddies. 

After Normandy, we returned to Le Moulin for a few days before heading to Paris. In Paris, we stayed in an apartment a few blocks from the Louvre right next to Tuileries Gardens.  Paris was fantastic and was absolutely beautiful.  We spent the day walking and sightseeing. Kellen enjoyed looking at the paintings in the art museums (especially the flowers and cats), and taking in the fresh air. We saw the Eiffel Tower (a few times- best was at night for the light show), Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, Notre Dame, Lock Bridge and Champs Elysees.  There was so much more to see, but we only had a few days and needed to be selective.  I really wish we had a chance to do a river boat cruise, but maybe next time! 

This week I am getting back into the swing of cooking. It was so odd not to cook for two weeks (and kinda nice)! This week we are getting back into our routine, but have a few fun things planned. We are having a picnic at work and have our first summer volleyball game. I am also going to Milwaukee with my very good friend to help her at a fundraiser for her State Assembly campaign. This weekend is not set in stone because I wanted to let Ron pick what we were going to do since it is Father's Day. 

Have a great week! More to come on the trip later! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Blue Cheese Topped Pork Chops, Buttered Parsley Potatoes and Green Beans
Tuesday: Sandwiches with Co-Workers at the Wildlife Sanctuary
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday:  Fundraiser in Milwaukee
Friday:  Skillet Tortellini with Sausage and Spinach and Salad
Saturday: Out for Dinner with Family
Sunday: Brunch at S.A.LT. and Grilled Steak with Bearnaise, American Fries, Grilled Asparagus and Grilled Corn. Dessert will be brownies of some type 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Molasses and Coffee Marinated Pork Chops

Time for June Secret Recipe Club

Secret Recipe Club

This month I was assigned Julie's blog Little Bit of Everything.  I was searching her recipes and was happy to see that she previously made my Zucchini Banana Crumble Bread (one of my all time favorites). I loved browsing the recipe selections because we have very similar tastes, but that makes picking one very hard! I finally selected Molasses and Coffee Marinated Pork Chops. This recipe looked wonderful and was originally from Alton Brown. Ron and I went to see Alton Brown in February, I have been itching to try more of his recipes ever since! The original recipe recommended reducing the leftover marinate for a sauce, but I opted not to do this and served the chops sans glaze.  Like Julie, we thought this recipe was delicious!  The coffee and molasses work wonderfully together and the pork is sweet and smokey. 
Thank you Julie for a delicious new recipe!

We are back from France! I will fill you in on all the details in a later post, but the trip was ah-maz-ing!!!


Ingredients

1 cup cool strong coffee
6 ounces molasses, by weight
2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless pork chops, 1-inch thick 


Instructions

Place all ingredients (besides the pork chops) in a medium bowl and whisk till combined. Place all of the ingredients into a 1-gallon zip top bag and seal. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 8 hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Remove the pork chops from the marinade (original recipe call to reduce marinade for glaze. I opted not to do this). Grill pork chops 3 to 4 minutes per side. Allow the pork chops to rest 2-3 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Basil Shrimp in a Coconut Curry Sauce

Ron and I absolutely adore Thai food and when I saw this recipe I knew it was a must make. The original recipe called for chicken, but I had some shrimp that needed to be used and thought it would work perfectly.  Besides using shrimp the only changes I made was to decrease the number of jalapeno peppers and to increase the amount of chili powder from 1/4 tsp to 1 tsp. I really like chili powder and wanted a little more kick since I decreased the number of jalapeno peppers. However, if you do not care for the smokey chili flavors I would only use 1/4 tsp.  I also cut down on the marinating time because I did not think it needed a full two hours. 

The flavors in this dish are fantastic and I love how easy it is to put together- perfect for a weekday meal. I really make an effort to keep us from getting in a rut when it comes to quick meals, and this was a perfect dinner on a busy night! 


Basil Shrimp in a Coconut Curry Sauce

Ingredients

2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/4 lb peeled raw shrimp
1 Tbl olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 Tbl cornstarch
3 Tbl fresh basil, cut into ribbons
1 tsp ginger root, freshly grated
1 1/2 cups dry brown rice


Instructions

In a medium bowl combine curry powder, black pepper,  1/4 tsp salt, and chili powder. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Add to spice mixture in bowl; toss to coat. Cover and chill for an 20-60 minutes.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Pour oil into a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and saute for 2 minutes or till just pink. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add onion, jalapeno pepper, and garlic to skillet. Cook and stir about 5-6 minutes or until tender.

Stir together coconut milk, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt until smooth. Carefully add to onion mixture in skillet. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly.

Return shrimp to skillet. Stir in basil and ginger. Cook and stir about 3 minutes or until heated through. 

Serve over hot rice.