Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Round-Up

It is almost Halloween and I decided to round up a few recipes from my blog to get into the spirit!  I hope everyone has a fun and spooky day tomorrow! I am off work to and going to enjoy the day with my sweet Kellen.  We are planning a little baking, a lunch with friends, napping/dinking around with my new lighting stuff, trick or treat, pizza and a kids Halloween party with friends. After Kellen goes to bed I will be watching Halloween movies and Ron will hide upstairs till it is over.  

Spaghetti with Oozy Eyeballs (Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs)






Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spaghetti with Oozy Eyeballs (Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs)

I have another spooky themed recipe coming your way today! I am having fun with these Halloween themed dishes, and this one is delicious! I have made stuffed meatballs many times, and thought they would be perfect to make a creepy Halloween meal.  This meal is very easy, and baking the meatballs over pan frying creates less time of standing over a hot stove. One note, make sure to get a good seal on the meatballs. If they are not properly sealed they cheese will come out and, while they will still be delicious, you will not have the melty center. 

Tonight American Horror Story is on. Yes.  I know I talk about this every week, but I love that creepy show....however, I do not love Twisty. He is scary.  

In other news, I recently purchased a cowboy lighting system due to natural light becoming pretty non-existent when I am home. I am getting the hang of things and lighting it looking pretty good in a few more recent photos. My only issue is storage,but Ron and I are trouble shooting it to find the best way to store the lights while having quick access. I am new to the artificial light game and prefer natural light, but Wisconsin can be unforgiving as winter approaches. 


Ingredients

For Meatballs: 
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
2/3 cup soft breadcrumbs
2 Eggs, beaten
1 Tbl Italian seasoning 
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp  black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
3 Mozzarella sticks, cut into 5 pieces

For Tomato Sauce:
1 Tbl olive oil
One small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes petite
1 (14.5 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup tomato puree
2 Tbl chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Black olives, slices
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb spaghetti


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, gently mix beef, sausage, breadcrumbs, eggs and seasoning by hand.  Portion to make 15 meatballs. Slightly flatten the meatball and place a piece of cheese in the middle. Seal the meat around the cheese and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Place making sheet in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

While meatballs are baking prepare the tomato sauce. Saute onion in the olive oil till tender. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add remaining sauce and cook on medium low heat until the meatballs have finished cooking.

During the last 10 minutes of cook time, cook and drain the spaghetti.  

To plate, serve spaghetti and tomato sauce topped with meatballs. Place olives on meatballs to create eyes and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mummy Calzone with Bloody Dipping Sauce

Happy Halloween week! 

I have a few goodies prepared to share with you that are perfect for little ghosts and goblins on Halloween night (or adult ghost and goblins too).  Pizza anything is always a favorite in our household, and after last year's pumpkin pizza I decided that a mummy would be a perfect project for a Halloween meal.  This mummy is very easy and can be done with homemade  dough or store bought dough yielding great results.  We like to stuff ours with traditional supreme toppings, but you could add whatever you like to your creation (cheese, pepperoni and a little green dye??)  This calzone bakes up quick and is absolutely delicious. I like to serve ours with a bit of bloody dipping sauce for a perfect spooky treat. 

I have already started my spooky movie marathon with Nightmare on Elm Street last night (still so creepy) and am looking forward to watching more spooky entertainment this week.  Ron is a big Simpsons fan, and we have a few of the Tree House of Horror episodes to watch during Halloween week as well (that is about as much scary as he will do).  

Do you have favorite scary movies? I am always on the hunt for something new I haven't seen, and love hearing suggestions! 



Ingredients

1 lb pizza dough
1/2 cup pepperoni (reserve 1 for mouth)
1/3 lb crumbled Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1/4 cup sliced black olives (reserve 2 for eyes)
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten with 1/2 tsp water

For Bloody Dipping Sauce:
15 oz tomato sauce
6 oz tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water


Instructions

In a sauce pan, whisk sauce ingredients together until smooth.  Allow sauce cook for about 30 minutes on the stove top before assembling the mummy. 

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (lightly sprayed with cooking spray).

Lightly flour your work space and roll pizza dough to a 12-14 inch long rectangle with a width approximately 9-10 inches. Place dough on the baking sheet and make 10-12 angled cuts on each side of the rectangle. Make sure to match up the cuts because they will be folded over to seal.

Down the center of the dough, spread 1/4 cup of marinara sauce (bloody dipping sauce) and keep the rest warm for serving. Layer 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 sausage. 1/2 olives, 1/2 green pepper and 1/2 cheese. Repeat layer with pepperoni, sausage, olives and pepper. 

Seal the mummy by, starting at the top, weaving the strips of dough over each other and tucking into place. To finish, tuck the end of the dough under to seal the mummy calzone. Add olive eyes and pepperoni grin to mummy. Brush the entire calzone with the egg wash. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or till golden brown.  Cut into slices and serve with warm dipping sauce.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Vanilla Brown Sugar Applesauce

Does anyone have a child that goes nuts for applesauce? I can raise my hand with no hesitation on that question. It is funny to me because when Kellen was younger he hated applesauce, yogurt and cottage cheese and now they are some of his favorite foods.  I normally make an unsweetened applesauce for us to enjoy and for fall baking. However, I wanted to add a few new flavors to one of our favorite snacks. Thankfully, we have a plentiful apple tree in our back yard and experimenting with different apple recipes is always encouraged. I love vanilla and apple together and with the slight sweetness from the brown sugar  the applesauce was amazing! I like a few chunks in my applesauce, but (as stated in the directions) blend it for a smoother consistency. Apple season is almost past us, but it is a good think I have lots of goodies in the freezer!

Tonight we are relaxing at home with a movie and Monday Night Football, and my nephew is coming to see our pumpkins glowing at night! I love how they turned out and make the house feel (and look) so festive! 


Ingredients

15 apples, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbl pure vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water


Instructions

Place all ingredients into a large pot. Cook on medium low heat and stir frequently until apples mash easily.  Remove from heat and mash with a fork. If you desire a smooth apple sauce allow the apple sauce to cool and place in a blender (we prefer a few chunks in our sauce).  Store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 10/27 - 11/2

Happy Monday and Halloween week! 

I love Halloween and always look forward to this time of year. I am a lover of folklore, spooky things, legends and scary movies. I normally go on a few scary movie binges this week (much to the annoyance of my non-scary movie loving husband). This year I took the day off work and am taking Kellen to see a few friends and family members and show off his costume (and snag a few pieces of candy for his mother).  

This weekend was full of fun activities and lots of family time. On Friday, we stayed in and made a tasty soup. We also watched the second Purge movie and were not big fans. On Saturday, Kellen and I headed to do some grocery shopping and attend our store's BooFest. It is really cute and perfect to keep kids happy while shopping. The store has 8 stations that hand out small snacks for the kids like apples, string cheese, yogurt and chocolate milk (and a few cookies too).  Kellen loved it and asked me to go shopping more.....little does he know that this is not an everyday occurrence!  On Saturday night we headed to the zoo for the annual Zoo Boo. The place was packed, but it was packed, but my triceratops had a lot of fun with his cousins.



Afterwards we went to Zesty's for burgers, chili and shakes. Yum!

On Sunday, Kellen and I headed to to park for a little fun with our friends. Kellen is starting to love climbing and loves scaring his mother even more! After the park, we met my mom, aunt, friend and cousin for a small lunch to celebrate the upcoming birth of her daughter at A'Bravo.  A'Bravo is a favorite of mine. I had a delicious feta and spinach scramble with bacon and Kellen devoured french toast and fruit. We headed home and carved (and used a few power tools) a few pumpkins before nap time.


I waited to light them little Kellen was up so he could see his pumpkins glowing in the darkness.



After pumpkins my Dad came over to watch the Packer game and there is no commentary needed on that front.....

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Loaded Potato Gnocchi Soup and Garlic Bread
Tuesday:  Oven Fried Chicken Thighs with Pan Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Corn
Wednesday:  Rosemary Ranch Grilled Chicken, Parmesan Couscous and Green Beans
Thursday: Creamy Balsamic Herb Chicken, Wild Rice and Broccoli
Friday: Happy Halloween! Mummy Dogs and Pizza
Saturday: Pappardelle Bolognese, Salad and Quick Garlic Knots
Sunday: Out with my friend Amanda

Treats: Apple Cinnamon Struedel Dessert Pizza

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sweet 'n' Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

TGIF, right?  I know I am feeling good that the weekend is almost here. I love staying busy, but I am always happy when Saturday come and I get to wake up with my little guy with no care to rush out the door to work.  This weekend I am especially looking forward to the Zoo Boo at our local zoo.  We have gone the past few years with our family, and it keep getting more and more fun. The kids are all at a really fun age right now, and love the different activities. 

Remember pumpkin hating husband (Ron)?? Well, he actually likes roasted pumpkin seeds! When I was getting ready to roast the seeds he leaned in and said "oooo I like pumpkin seeds". My jaw promptly hit the floor and I went about my business.  I like plain roasted seeds, but decided to give them a little face lift with sugar, cinnamon and a little sea salt. These are a perfect for a quick snack or, in our case, a little extra treat for a  Packer tailgate. These pumpkin seeds are worth a try, and are a delicious alternative to the standard salt roasted. I love that the possibilities are endless with roasting seeds....and that my husband actually likes something with the word pumpkin in it!

Have a great weekend and Go Pack!


Ingredients

2 cups pumpkin seeds, cleaned, rinsed and patted dry
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tsp sea salt


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 125 degrees (this is for drying. If seeds are dry pre-heat to 275 degrees).  Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

If pumpkin seeds are not dry arrange them on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. If the seeds are dried skip this step. After 15 minutes the seeds should be dried and ready to be removed from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 275 degrees. Remove seeds from baking sheet and toss in a medium bowl with butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Return seeds to baking sheet and spread evenly.  Roast for about 30 minutes-40 minutes and stir every 10 minutes to prevent sticking and scorching.  Remove seeds from baking sheet and store in an airtight container. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkin Molasses Bread

Welcome to October's What's Baking?


We were challenged to bake with pumpkin or squash in the month of October, and what else could be a more perfectly timed ingredient? I immediately decided on pumpkin because I was planning on making a few batches of fresh puree and wanted to work it into this challenge. As you know I love pumpkin and look forward to fall anticipating all of the yummy treats that will come our of our kitchen.  However, I was curious on the some of the history of pumpkins and how it relates to our food culture. I was going a bit of reading on Colonial America and found a few interesting tidbits of information on pumpkins. Pumpkins are one of the oldest native crops to America and have been cultivated by indigenous populations in North and South America for what is estimated to be about 6,000 years. Initially, seeds were eaten, but that lead to cultivation and eventually consumption of the entire pumpkin.  I won't go into too much detail, but have linked the page from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation above if you are interested in reading more. Another this that I found really interesting is that many preparation methods have stayed very similar to their original preparation. 

Back to the bread, I used a traditional quick bread method, but subbed out the oil for homemade unsweetened  applesauce. I also added molasses because I love the flavor and thought it would work perfectly with pumpkin. The flavors of this bread are wonderful and perfect for fall, and the texture is dense and moist.  I am so happy to participate in such a fun group and can't wait to see what everyone else made (and to get a few more pumpkin recipes to try!).

This week I have been working on a few Halloween recipes, and can't wait to share them with you next week!



Ingredients

1/2 unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
Two eggs, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, molasses and vanilla using  a stand mixer or handheld beater till smooth. Beat in the sugars till evenly mixed. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Gently stir in the flour mixture by hand or on low speed. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is even. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until middle is set (this is a very dense bread and you will likely always have a  few crumbles with the tooth pick test)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Apple Cider Dip

One of my fall favorites besides pumpkin are fresh apples. We are lucky enough to have two Macintosh trees in our back yard and are spoiled to enjoy the delicious apples. Ever since I can remember I have loved a big glass of apple cider (hot or cold). It is especially perfect of a crisp day on my back porch. This year Kellen has been loving running out to the trees to pick his snack. I love that he has started to make this connection, and it is adorable to see how thrilled he was to finally eat an apple he watched grow all spring. 

I am normally not a big fan of traditional fruit dip, but I wanted to create a dip that apple cider because I love the flavors and it is perfect for fall. I though the easiest way to do this was to create a syrup to get the intense flavor I wanted from the dip.  The syrup will be a similar consistency to maple syrup, but a touch thinner.  Initially, the dip may seem a dip watery and letting it rest in the fridge will result in a thicker consistency.  

I made this dip for an evening with my girlfriends (such willing test subjects) and they all thought it was delicious and thought the cider flavor was great. I like the added cinnamon to the cider, but if you want less cinnamon flavor reduce the number of sticks used or eliminate it all together. 

Tonight is my weekly t.v. binge..... I can't help myself and Twisty the Clown is still haunting my dreams.  Any Walking Dead watchers out there??? Wasn't Sunday crazy!? I stupidly made the mistake of eating during the episode....bad plan and lesson learned for the future. 


Ingredients

3 cups apple cider
1/2 Tbl brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
Ground Cinnamon


Instructions

In a medium pot, add cider, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks. Bring the cider to a simmer and heat to medium-low. Allow the cider to slowly simmer and reduce until it is a syrup. This takes about 45-60 minutes. Strain the syrup and allow it to slightly cool. Mix the syrup with the cream cheese. Cover and chill for about 30 minutes before serving. Top with ground cinnamon and serve with apple slices.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Puree

I am a seriously pumpkin lover and normally buy pumpkin puree out of convenience, but this year I decided that it was time to start making my own. Pumpkin puree is so easy and it makes me kick myself for buying all those cans over the years.  

This recipe is super easy and quickly gives you a delicious puree. The only thing that takes a little while is scooping out the seeds, but that is not a big undertaking.  I love baking with pumpkin in the fall and love the fresh taste of homemade puree. My husband is not a pumpkin lover, but it turns out my son is! While I was processing the puree my little guy wandered into the kitchen to "see cokooin'" and wanted to try a spoonful. Kellen proclaimed it as yummy and proceeded to have many following spoonfuls of pumpkin. Thank goodness pumpkin love has fallen in my favor...so far. I am also loving that he is getting more and more interested in getting into the kitchen with me. 

This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree, but this may depend on the size pumpkins you are using. It stores in the fridge for about a week, but it is freezer friendly and can be stored there as well. 

I don't know about you, but all I can think about is now pumpkin pie!


Ingredients

2 pie pumpkins 
Baking Sheet 
Foil
Food Processor


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. 

Cut the tops off of the pumpkins and cut in half. Scoop out the pumpkin seeds and set save them for roasting at a later time. Make sure to scrape the sides of the pumpkin to remove all the stringy stuff.  Next, halve the pumpkin again (you will have 8 pieces total) and place on the baking sheet pumpkin side up.  Bake 45-55 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender and skin has wrinkled.  

Remove pumpkin from the over and allow it to cool until you can comfortably handle it.  Remove the skin by peeling it off with your hands. Place pumpkin in the food processor (you could use a blender if you do not have a food processor) and process till smooth, about 3 minutes. 

Store covered in the fridge up to 7 days. This recipe yields about 2 cups of puree depending on the size of the pumpkin. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baked Pumpkin Goat Cheese Alfredo with Bacon

Time for October's Crazy Ingredient Challenge!


The theme for this month was pumpkin and bacon. Bring on my happy dance.....seriously.  If you are a regular reader you probably know that we (Ron, Kellen and I) and bacon lovers, and (like a big chunk of the rest of the United States) we look forward to ways to put it in anything.  My thoughts immediately went to pasta because of the pumpkin component, and I wanted to go savory. However, though my husband is a bacon lover he is a pumpkin hater (boo hiss), and I thought this was prefect opportunity for cook for my girlfriends during our henna party. I thought a baked alfredo type pasta was just the ticket! I also used goat cheese because I know my girls love it (and it is another ingredient my husband is not a fan of). This pasta is wonderfully easy to put together, unique and a perfect fall savory dish. 

My girlfriends and I absolutely loved this pasta, and it was perfect for our evening (check out the henna photos on my last meal plan post). I am sure that you could lighten up this dish, but I am not going to pretend that is a good idea in this case because this is a pasta that is meant to be sinful. One point to note- the sauce with seem a bit watery when poured into the baking dish, but it will thicken as it is in the oven. The flavors of bacon, pumpkin and goat cheese are amazing together, and each distinctive. 

If you are interested in joining our challenge, stop over to Dawn of Spatulas on Parade to say hello and to get more information.  I am excited to see what next month will bring! 

Ingredients

1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 Tbl olive oil
4 Tbl salted butter
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl fresh chopped sage
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
6 oz goat cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (+ a few extra Tbl for topping)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp white pepper
Salt, to taste
1 lb shaped pasta


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside. 

Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside. 

In a large pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Add sage, cream, milk, 4 oz of goat cheese, pumpkin and Parmesan. Reduce heat to low, whisking continuously and allow the sauce to slowly bubble. Allow the sauce to cook for 7-10 minutes. The sauce should reduce a bit, but will not be thick (it will thicken in the oven). Taste and season with salt and white pepper (remember you will add bacon so do not over salt). 

Remove from heat and gently stir in the pasta. Pour pasta into the prepared baking dish. Top with a few tablespoons of Parmesan, remaining goat cheese (crumble with your hands) and bacon. 

Bake for 30-40 minute or until sauce is bubbly. 

Weekly Meal Plan 10/20 - 10/26

Happy Monday!

Less than two weeks till Halloween! Even time I think that I get the song from Halloween III and the Silver Shamrock commercial.  This weekend we had a few fun Halloween activities and a fun adult activity at Lambeau Field! 

On Friday, we bummed around and went out for fish. Kellen is a fish lover, but loves the pickles that come with the meal even more!

On Saturday, we started the day at the community Trick or Treat Trail with my mom, sister and nephew. The trail was beautiful and Kellen got a lots of treats and coupons to use around Green Bay. The event is put on by the Village of Bellevue and is a lot of fun for kids. 

My sweet Triceratops:
 

Later in the evening (and after a nap), we headed to Heritage Hill for a Brother's Grimm Halloween with a few friends. I have been going to this since I was a child and I love feeling like we stepped back in time. The kids loved running around and having a few treats as well. Heritage Hill is a living museum and it is awesome to see the different volunteers bring the era to life. 

On Sunday, Ron and I were up bright and early to drop off Kellen and head to Lambeau Field with my cousins for the Packer game. We have gone the past few years as a group and it is always so much fun. We usually start our tailgate around 8:00 am so we are properly ready for the game. Grilled brats and coolers of cold beer are musts in my book. The game was a bit of a blow out in our favor, and was a blast!


This week I am doing some Halloween prepping and we are headed to to zoo for ZooBoo this weekend with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, nephew and niece. 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Mummy Calzone with Bloody Dipping Sauce
Tuesday: Loaded Potato Gnocchi Soup and Salad
Wednesday:  Spaghetti with Oozy Eyeballs, Garlic Bread and Salad
Thursday: Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings and Green Beans and Carrots
Friday:  Chicken Curry Soup 
Saturday: Zoo Boo and Out for Dinner
Sunday:Slow Cooker Peanut Thai Beef, Brown Rice, Pea Pods  and Graveyard Cake

Friday, October 17, 2014

Taco Ranch Chicken

Do you have a go to method for chicken tacos? I have a few favorites. Two of my favorites are cheddar beer chicken tacos and salsa verde chicken, but my all time favorite is Taco Ranch. I do not know what it is about this flavor combination, but I absolutely adore for our tacos. The meat is so flavorful and juicy, and is always raved about when I bring it for a taco bar at work. Kellen really like shredded chicken and goes nuts for this stuff. He especially liked it with rice or couscous as a meat carrier system. 

Tonight we are having a low key night at home before a busy weekend. On Saturday, we are going to a pumpkin walk with my sister in the morning and a Halloween event at Heritage Hill with friends in the evening. I am excited because Kellen gets to wear his Triceratops costume for the first time and it is soooo freakin' cute! On Sunday, we are dropping Kellen off and heading to the Packer game with my cousins for a bright and early tailgate followed by the football game. I am so excited! It is my first Packer game of the season and I am so pumped! 

Have a great weekend everyone! 


Ingredients

2 1/2- 3 lb chicken breasts
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 envelope ranch seasoning
Juice from 1 lime
2 cups chicken stock


Instructions

Place chicken breasts into crockpot. Mix remaining ingredients into a medium bowl and pour over chicken. Stir to coat. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to crockpot and cook for an additional hour.  Use for tacos, sandwiches, salads or wraps. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread

Time for October Improv Cooking Challenge! 

The theme for this month was chocolate and peanut butter. When I first heard the month's ingredients I was very excited because I already knew the flavor combo I wanted to try that would be perfect for fall- chocolate peanut butter pumpkin. In my head I knew it would make a delicious bread, but I just needed to tweak my recipe to get the right consistency. I opted to use a little greek yogurt because I like the moisture it gives to bread and the creaminess fit perfect with the chocolate. I wanted to use pumpkin because 1) i love it, 2) it is perfect for the season and 3) it produces wonderfully dense and rich quick breads. I also opted for a little cocoa powder because who doesn't love a little extra chocolate! 

Kellen was my trusty helper and may have eaten way more than his share of chocolate chips! So, what was the verdict on our finished product? Absolutely delicious! After coming home from work Kellen and I each devoured a piece standing over it in the kitchen- caveman habits only in our house. I think the stand out was the combo of pumpkin and peanut butter..... I have a bag of butterscotch chips in my pantry that might have a variation of this recipe written all over them.

If you want to join the fun of the Improv Cooking Challenge visit Lesa of Edesia's Notebook for details! 

Stay tuned for next month's recipe using Apples and Cinnamon!


Ingredients

2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 light brown sugar
1 Tbl pumpkin pie spice
3 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips, divided


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla using  a stand mixer or handheld beater till smooth. Beat in the sugars, spice, cocoa and baking soda till evenly mixed. Gently stir in the flour by hand. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is even. Top with remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 45 minutes or until middle is set (this is a very dense bread and you will likely always have a  few crumbles with the tooth pick test)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Company Potato Casserole

Cheesy potatoes are a staple at almost any Midwest potluck and are usually one of the first things to disappear from the spread. We make a few different variations of cheesy potatoes in our house and my favorite recipe included cream of chicken soup. Since I recently made a homemade batch of my own I decided it was time to update one of my favorite potluck side dishes.  There is just something addictive about these potatoes to me....maybe it is the melted cheese or creamy potatoes or the buttery topping....or all three!  I have to say I love this updated version even more than the original! 

Speaking of cheese, tonight we are looking forward to relaxing at home and making a new recipe for mac and cheese with broccoli and chicken- yum! Tonight is also American Horror Story and, so far, I am digging this season. Anyone else think Twisty is horrifying!?  I am also getting ready to do a little pumpkin baking tonight and I feel like I am really late to the party with it this year! I see many of my friend's blogs adorned with delicious pumpkin treats, and I need to get my ass in gear! 


Ingredients

1 30 oz bag frozen hasbrowns
1 recipe for Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
2 cups grated medium/mild cheddar cheese
2 cups soft bread crumbs (I put my bread in my food processor, but dried will work too)
2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
4 Tbl butter, melted
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, sour cream and hashbrowns. Season with salt and pepper. In the baking dish layer 1/2 the potato mixture followed by 1 cup of each cheese. Layer the remainder of the potatoes over the cheese and top with remaining cheese. In a medium bowl, gently mix bread crumbs, parsley and butter. Spoon evenly over the potatoes. 

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until top is golden and potatoes are hot and bubbly. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DIY Cream of Chicken Soup

I am a sucker for those 3 ingredients creamy casseroles at potlucks, but they are not something we make at home because we do not normally buy condensed soups.  I have seen a few other bloggers use their own versions of this casserole staple, and when I saw a homemade version from Pinch of Yum for cream of chicken I was sold on giving it a try.  This recipe makes the equivalent of two cans of soup, but can be easily halved if you only need one.  One point of this recipe, when it is done cooking it is important to allow it to cool a bit because it will thicken as is cools and the texture will be closer to the traditional cream of chicken soup. I made this soup for a few upcoming posts and have really enjoyed re-making a few old classics like company potatoes and chicken noodle casserole. 

Tonight I am headed to a fundraiser for an Attorney General candidate.  In Wisconsin, there are many women on the ballot this year and, for me, that is really exciting.


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chicken broth 
1 1/2 cups milk (I use 2%)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp onion powder
 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
 1 tsp salt
 1/2 tsp dried  parsley


Instructions

Combine the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of the milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil.
While broth is coming to a boil, whisk the flour and seasonings into the remaining 1 cup milk until it forms a thick smooth paste.

Pour the paste into the saucepan with the broth mixture over low heat and whisk continuously as the mixture simmers. Continue to simmer and whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick, 5-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken  as it cools.

Makes equivalent of 2 cans of soup. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 10/13 - 10/19

Happy Monday!

This weekend was fun and busy! On Friday, Kellen headed to Ron's parents for a sleepover with his cousin while I had my girlfriends over for henna, wine and pasta. We do a lot of traditional girls night activities, but we are always up for something different. I really dig henna, and was fortunate enough to have Joy of Joyful Henna Designs agree to come share her talents with us. If you haven't tried henna before you are missing out. It is a ton of fun and the designs are beautiful (and temporary too)! After henna was done my friend Maggie and I met Ron out for a few beers before calling it a night.
On Saturday, we pickup Kellen and bummed around during the afternoon. Kellen and I met my mom for dinner while Ron worked on school/lab work. We all tucked in early because we were heading to Milwaukee on Sunday to visit our friends & their son and Ron's fellow fantasy football players for a football party (YAY PACKERS- what a nail biter!). It was super fun and the little boys were so cute! They are both only children and are still learning sharing, but they ended the day with hugs- adorable. Ron and I stopped and Trader Joe's to stock up before heading home. Ron watched football when we got home and I waited my turn so I could watch Walking Dead. 

This week we have a political type fundraisers to attend, but the one I am most looking forward to is for our former co-worker Eric's (now State Assembly) birthday party. It is always really awesome to see old friends and support their run. I am also counting down the days till Sunday for the Packer game!!! We go tailgating and to the game every year with our cousins, and I am really looking forward to it. 

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: General Tso's Meatballs, Rice and Broccoli
Tuesday: Ron's Sloppy Joe's, Oven Fries and Peas
Wednesday: Cheesy Baked Shells with Chicken and Broccoli and Salad
Thursday: Pizza
Friday: Tacos
Saturday: Out for Dinner
Sunday: Go Pack Go....We will be eating at the stadium!

Homemade Boursin Cheese

Time for October Secret Recipe Club reveal day!


This month I was fortunate to receive Marsha's blog The Harried Cook. Marsha has a great back story to the creation of her blog- her daughters. She started her blog to chronicle her various recipes, not only for herself, but her daughter to enjoy in the future. Being a mother myself I think that it is an amazing inspiration for blogging, and I am positive her daughter will be thrilled down the road. Marsha has many beautiful recipes on her blog and I struggled to find the perfect this to make for our club.  I am not a big baker, but was eying a chocolate cake until I saw her version of Boursin Cheese.  I love Boursin cheese and my family always has different cracker spreads overflowing our table at various family gatherings.  If you were wondering Boursin cheese a French cheese developed in Normandy for the Boursin Company in the 1960's. Later, it was bought out and is made in North America and is pretty popular. I also decided on this recipe because I was having a girl's night at my house for a little henna, and I knew my friends would love it. My husband was also very happy to take over the leftover the following day! 

Thank you Marsha for a new recipe- I can hardly wait to make it again! 


Ingredients

6oz  cream cheese, softened
3oz unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice 
1 Tbl fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbl chives, finely chopped
1 Tbl fresh dill, finely chopped
1/4 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cracked pepper


Instructions

In a food processor, process the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.  Add garlic, herbs and pepper. Remove from food processor and stir in the lemon juice. 

To shape the cheese, line a bowl with plastic wrap and spoon the cheese into the bowl and smooth the surface making sure you haven't allowed any air in. Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the cheese, and seal the top with an additional piece of plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm. To serve, turn out of the container, peel off the plastic wrap. Allow cheese to sit out for 5-10 minutes before service. Serve with crackers and veggies.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pickle Brined Grilled Chicken

Brining is a concept that is relatively foreign to me. I never grew up in a house that brined chickens or turkeys, and did not know much about the potential benefits to the meat. The theory of brining is that it leads to more tender and juicer meat.  I wanted to give brining a shot, but put my own spin on it with one of my very favorite briney ingredients- pickle juice. 

I used a good quality kosher pickle juice, fresh garlic slices and some peppercorns for a little bite.  I also used our normal grilling method for chicken.  What was the result? It was actually really really good. I thought there would be a lot of pickle flavor, but thankfully there wasn't and the salt level in the meat was great. I could taste the garlic flavors as well, but couldn't really pick out the peppercorns in the end result.  Would I do this again? Absolutely! It makes me interested in trying more brining methods for our chicken and turkey. 

Tonight, I am having a few girls of for a little dinner and henna- so excited! Have a great weekend!


Ingredients

4 Chicken Breasts
2 1/2 cups pickle juice
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Tbl black peppercorns


Instructions

Approximately 8-12 hours prior to grilling, place chicken, garlic and peppercorns in a large resealable plastic bag.  Pour pickle juice over chicken. Press out the air, seal and place in the fridge. 

Preheat grill to medium heat. Remove chicken from the bag and grill for about 5-6 minutes per side or until juices run clear.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Grilled BBQ Ranch Chicken

Who doesn't love bbq chicken? If you are raising your hand I feel bad for you because it is one of my favorite things hot off the grill. 

You all know I love to play around with different marinades and I decided change around transitional bbq chicken by adding ranch for a little twist. I really like the flavors of bbq and ranch mixed together and thought it would make a flavor packed marinade. I made this for my family and my friend Emily for an SVU watching night, and we all loved the chicken.  The smokey bbq is perfect with the tangy herb flavors of the ranch, and with the Worcestershire sauce there is a nice amount of salty flavor resulting in some seriously juicy chicken.  I think this marinate would be delicious on pork or beef as well. One note to make is to make sure you watch the chicken for scorching because of the sugar in the bbq sauce.  Also, I tend to marinate for 8 or more hours because I like the flavors to get deep into the meat, but you could marinate for less time if 8 hours is not an option and have a delicious result to your chicken. 

I have been excited for tonight for WEEKS. Tonight American Horror Story premiers and I can't wait to watch it. I am a bit skeptical of the concept, but have always enjoyed the series and I am sure they will prove me wrong. Ron and I also watched the premier of Stalker last week.....oh my god... so scary and good, but do not watch it if you are home alone . My friend Emily and her daughter are also coming over for a little SVU watching and dinner. Hope everyone is having a great week! 


Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup of your favorite bbq sauce
2 Tbl Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbl steak sauce
1 Tbl chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp black pepper


Instructions

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, ranch, bbq, Worcestershire steak sauce, parsley, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper. Place chicken in to a large resealable bag and pour in the marinade. Push out the air and seal. Use your hands to move the chicken so it is evenly coated by marinade. Marinate for at least 8 hours. 

Preheat grill to medium heat. Remove chicken from the bag and shake off excess marinade. Grill for about 5-6 minutes per side or until juices run clear.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Titletown Tailgate Chili

There is nothing in the world that speaks the start of fall to me than a big bowl of chili. I don't make chili in the summer and look forward to the minute that a bit of chill is in the air for chili. You can always tell when everyone is making chili early in the season.  It will normally be mid September and the store will (what feels like) immediately be sold out of all the chili powder and oyster crackers! 

I am in love with this chili recipe and I know everyone makes it different, but this is my way. I have worked many years getting it perfect for Ron and I. It is spicy, but not a I-need-to drink-a-gallon-of-water spicy.  I like to use a bit of greenery in mine with peppers and celery. I know that this is a little bit different, but I like the flavor and texture that it gives to the chili. I also use two different size diced tomatoes in my recipe because I think it give needed texture, but not gigantic chunks of tomatoes that need to be broken with a spoon. I am pretty heavy handed with the chili powder, but (in my opinion) there is nothing worse than flavorless chili. I also love a good amount of cumin and garlic in my recipe. In our house, we normally serve noodles with chili, but sometimes with out. If I had to pick, I think I would say that noodles are my preference. It seems to be a regional thing.  We also serve our chili with a good amount of freshly grated sharp cheddar, sour cream and crunchy oyster crackers. Just writing this makes me hungry..... This is also one of our family's go to recipes when we are cheering on the Packers on Sunday afternoon! 

Since I decided to take the time to actually write my recipe down I thought it would be fun to enter Miz Helen's 5th Annual Texas Star Chili Cook Off

 

I have linked this post up to her page and would love if you could go visit and vote for me by clicking on my recipe. 

The temperature is slowly lowering in Wisconsin and I am excited to dig into a spicy bowl of this chili for lunch today!


Ingredients

3 1/2 - 4 lbs ground beef
2 large jalapenos, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 stalks of celery, chopped
2/3 cup chili powder
2 Tbl garlic powder
1 Tbl onion powder
1 Tbl cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbl salt
2 (14.5 oz) cans chili beans (I use medium heat)
1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes +  1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
28 oz tomato sauce
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Grated sharp cheddar
Sour Cream
Noodles
Crackers


Instructions

In a large pot, break apart ground beef and brown. When meat is almost browned, add peppers, onions, celery and garlic. When meat is cooked and veggies are slightly tender add chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, pepper and salt.  Mix thoroughly to get all the spiced into the meat/ veggies. 

Add beans to chili meat and stir. Add diced tomatoes and petite diced tomatoes and stir. Add tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes and (you guessed it) stir. 

Cover and cook on low for about 4-5 hours stirring every 15 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.  Serve over noodles or without noodles (however you like it). Top with cheese, sour cream and crackers.