Monday, September 28, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 9/28 - 10/4

Happy Monday everyone!

The weekend went way too fast again.... Sigh... 

On Friday, my friend Emily came over for spaghetti and Law and Order. She made delicious peanut butter truffles with dark chocolate- so good. Later, another friend stopped over for a little henna- so fun! 

On Saturday, Kellen and I did a little shopping in the morning and around noon I headed over to help my sister for my nephew's birthday party with his school friends. The party was at one of those bouncy house places and the kids thought it was so much fun. The birthday boy had a blast and got lots of fun gits. After the party, I headed home and waited for Kellen to wake so Ron and I could bring him to a final evening at Bay Beach before it closes for the season (the ferris wheel is always the first request!) . 

After Bay Beach, we headed home for sub sandwiches and some relaxation. Kellen went to bed, and Ron and I relaxed with a few old episodes of The Closer (loved that show!). 

On Sunday, Ron had to work for a few hours. Kellen and I grabbed breakfast with my sister and nephew. After breafast we came home and played outside for a bit and I worked on a few blog recipes. Later, we met my friend Amanda for lunch and headed to the Halloween store to look at costumes.  Kellen thought it was a lot of fun, but didn't like the scary light displays!  We headed home for naps and I did some laundry and got started on dinner. Ron watched a little football and Kellen played with his trains. After dinner, Kellen went to bed and Ron and I enjoyed watching the eclipse and blood moon- so cool!

This week is not as crazy as last week. Tonight, Kellen has swim and we are heading home to order pizza and watch the game with my dad and sister. I am looking forward to this weekend because we are taking a trip to Door County!

Have and great week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Pizza for Packer Game
Tuesday: Slowcooker Saucy Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Wednesday: Out for Dinner
Thursday: Black and Orange Pasta (Black Bean Rotini and Creamy Roasted Orange Bell Pepper Sauce) and Meatballs
Friday: Darn Good Roast, Cheesy Skillet Potato Casserole and Green Beans
Saturday: Door County for the Day
Sunday: Spicy Beef Chili for Packer Game

Treats: Peanut Butter Banana Bread & Pumpkin Banana Bread

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Banana Pudding Pie #BookClubCookBookCC

It is month 3 of my book club and it is so much fun! 

A little background if you don't remember my kick off post in July, a group bloggers organized by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla (click the link if you want to join the fun!) draw inspiration from a book and recipes published in The Book Club Cookbook. Each month, a blogger selected a book and The Book Club Cookbook offers several suggested recipes or the blogger can create a recipe inspired by the story.  At the end of the month the host or hostess posts a round-up and gives away a copy of the book. 

Here are a list of my fellow participating bloggers/hosts:

Cheese Curd In Paradise               
Life on Food       
The Pajama Chef              
The Spiffy Cookie             
Things I Make (for Dinner)           
Tortillas and Honey         

This month our hostess is Renee, author of Tortillas and Honey, selected Ernest J. Gaines' book, A Lesson Before Dying.  This book takes place in Louisiana and centers around a man named Jefferson. Jefferson is on death row and is deeply impacted by how he was treated during his trail, and how he was called a "hog". Jefferson has a hard time seeing worth in himself and does not think himself worthy of the food brought to him by his grandmother. Jefferson's grandmother wants him to believe that he is a man and hopes that it will allow him to die with dignity. Eventually, Jefferson accept the offerings and begins to realize that he is a a person who has worth despite what happened to him. 

Some of the different dishes offered to Jefferson were, gumbo, fried chicken and pralines. I will be the first to admit that I am not very familiar with preparing traditional southern dishes. However, I am on a cooking board with a few southern ladies and a frequently mentioned dessert when the topic comes to southern cuisine is banana pudding. I love bananas and found a recipe for banana pudding pie and knew it was a perfect submission to my book club. 

This pie is really easy to make and I put it together and baked in less than an hour (it does require a few hours to chill). I love a quick dessert recipe and loved the creamy banana filling with the fluffy meringue topping! Ron is not a banana fan, but Kellen and I loved this pie.  While I have never made a true banana pudding I felt pretty proud about this and making my own vanilla cream! 

Tune in next month to learn about our next book selection and to discover more delicious recipes from our blogging crew! 


1 (12-oz.) box vanilla wafers, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large bananas, sliced
1 recipe of Vanilla Cream Filling
4 egg whites (save the yolks for the filling)
1/2 cup sugar

for vanilla cream filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


To make the crust, set aside 30 vanilla wafers; pulse remaining vanilla wafers in a food processor until finely crushed. Pour melted butter slowly into the food processor is it processes. Remove, and firmly press on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a 9-inch pie plate.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and cool 30 minutes.

Arrange banana slices evenly over bottom of crust. Prepare Vanilla Cream Filling (see below), and spread half of hot filling over bananas.Top with 20 vanilla wafers. Spread remaining hot filling over vanilla wafers. (Filling will be about 1/4 inch higher than top edge of crust.)

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing the edges.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool 1 hour on a wire rack or until completely cool. Coarsely crush remaining 10 vanilla wafers, and sprinkle evenly over top of pie. Chill 4 hours.

for vanilla cream filling:
Whisk together sugar, flour, eggs, egg yolk and milk in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until it reaches the thickness of chilled pudding. Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla. 

This month Renee at Tortillas and Honey, this month's host, is giving away a copy of the book. Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from September 1st till September 30th at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

*Disclosure: Renee received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp to use in this year-long project plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

How are we so close to the end of September? It seems crazy to me because I feel like yesterday I was floating in a tube on Lake Michigan! Time flies when you are having fun I guess! 

This is a special week because both my nephews have a birthday this week! One had his party on Monday and turned 6 on Tuesday and the other turns 7 today and we are celebrating tonight! They are both such sweet boy and so good to their cousin Kellen.  Kellen is excited because he gets to eat cake twice this week. Priorities. 

This week has been crazy so far! Last night I played volleyball and it was a blast as usual. I really like the girls I play with and we played particularly well last night! 

Since Fall has arrived, I decided that it was a perfect time to make and share Sour Cream Noodle Bake from Pioneer Woman. I love casseroles in the Fall and Winter (well I really like them any time) and this is a perfect meal on a breezy night as the temperatures start to get lower. This recipe is so easy to make and requires minimal pantry ingredients. The leftovers are also great for lunch the next day. I served this will garlic bread and a big green salad, and my family gobbled it up. 

Hope everyone is enjoying their week!  Anyone catch Survivor or Law and Order last night?!?! I have it recorded and can't wait to watch it tonight and SVU on Friday! 


1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
Salt and black pepper
12 oz wide egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup grated sharp cheddar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown beef  in a large skillet. Drain grease and add tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer lightly while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add to noodles and green onions and gently stir. 

To assemble, add half of the noodles to a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on half the grated cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until all cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 9/21 - 9/27

Happy Monday and Yay Packers!!! It's nice waking up on  a Monday morning after a great Packer victory!

This weekend was a lot of fun! On Friday, I met up with two of my girlfriends, Emily and Kayla, at Red for dinner. I had goat cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates for a starter and they were fantastic! For my main dish I had Jalapeno Chicken and it was just ok. The chicken was good, but the sauce was a little thick and there wasn't enough for all of the chicken, but that could just be me liking sauces a lot! My friend got a steak sandwich that looked time I will try that. For dessert, we all got a slice of the flourless chocolate cake and it was so delicious. I could only eat half of mine and the other half was boxed up for Ron. I love hanging out with these ladies and can't wait till we can all sneak away again! 

On Saturday, Ron headed out to a golf outing for work and Kellen and I got ready to go to Mulberry Farms with our friends. I had never been before, but had heard great things!  It was a little pricey for both of us, but there were many things included in the amount like a hay ride, pony ride and pumpkins! Kellen absolutly loved it and it was so fun to be able to touch all the animals. We held a chicken, held baby ducklings, pet kittens, pets pigs and baby cows...and lots more. Kellen's two favorite things were the pony ride and the hay ride- so much fun! As we bumped along he said "mama, I like this!!".  Here are a few snap shots from out day:

In the evening, we relaxed and grilled brats. Ron and I watched a few recorded shows after Kellen fell asleep and I passed out in the chair right in the middle...go figure. 

On Sunday, we slept in (as much "sleeping in" as you do with a 2 year old). and grabbed breakfast at one of our local favorites- The Pancake Place. Kellen loves the pancakes, Ron loved the hash and I love the hashbrowns- win win for everyone.  The remainder of the day was spent cleans and getting ready for my family to come for the Packer game. I roasted a few chickens,  made potatoes and homemade green bean casserole, gravy and dinner yummy! My sister brought yummy cookies for dessert! The cherry on top of this great weekend was the Packer win! I saw on Facebook that many of my friends got to go and enjoy the game! I can't wait till we go with my cousins in October!

This week is busy busy busy! We have two birthday parties, swim lessons, dinner date with some girlfriends, Law and Order date with Emily and volleyball! Very busy week, but all of those things are really fun which makes it something to look forward to! I am also going to get started on some of my fall baking! 

Monday: Swim and Nephew's Birthday Party in Appleton...Dinner on the Go!
Tuesday: Out to Dinner with Girlfriends
Wednesday: Spicy Beef Tacos
Thursday: Nephew's Birthday Party
Friday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Garlic Bread and Salad.
Saturday: Grilled Cheese and Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Sunday: Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions for Breakfast & Ikea Swedish Meatballs, Egg Noodles and Peas for Dinner

Treats: Pumpkin Banana Bread

Friday, September 18, 2015

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

Oh my goodness- time has flow by these past few weeks and I have been trying to keep up with everything!

Kellen started swim class and I have been playing volleyball on Wednesday nights.  That with a few other commitments have made my plate a bit full but, do not fear, my weekly updates will be back on Monday and I have lots to share! 

It has started cooling down in Wisconsin, but we grill year round (the snow just makes it taste better!) and I had a taste for chicken teriyaki on the grill! This recipe is from Taste of Home and is really easy and the ony adjustment I made was adding a little pineapple juice. Easy recipes are a lifesaver for me on busy weekdays and it is an extra bonus if the leftover are yummy for the following day lunch for Ron and I. I added a few pineapple rings to the grill because I love grilled pineapple and it is perfect with teriyaki chicken. Kellen, Ron and I loved this chicken and it was perfect dish to keep summer alive a little longer! 

This weekend we are headed to Mulberry Farms to look for a pumpkins and play with animals. Ron is golfing for work, so Kellen and I have the day to ourselves. On Sunday, I have some cleaning and cooking to do because my family is coming over for the Packer game in the evening!  I am making a mini Thanksgiving with roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes, homemade green bean casserole and roll. My sister is bringing dessert too. 

Have a great Friday everyone! I am heading to dinner with a few of my girlfriends tonight and am excited!


1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts


Whisk together, soy sauce, oil, onions, honey, juice, garlic and ginger. Place chicken in a large resealable bag and pour in the marinate. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Drain and discard marinade. Heat grill to medium and grill 5-6 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 170°. Serving suggestion: rice, grilled veggies and grilled pineapple. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Chocolate Loaf Cake

Time for August Secret Recipe Club reveal!

This month I received Ellie's blog, The Hobo Kitchen.  Ellie is Hoboken (hence the The Hobo Kitchen) and has been a food blogger since 2008. I really enjoyed reading Ellie's blog and loved her Livin' The Life posts. Eliie also has tons of recipes that I wanted to try like Feta Avocado Dip, Beer and Pretzel Cupcakes, Beer Brownies all sounded amazing, but my winner was the Chocolate Loaf Cake

This loaf cake was fantastic and so easy to prepare. One thing that can turn me off from baking is lots of bowls.  This recipe uses two bowls and makes for easy clean up! I loved the addition of the sour cream because of made for a delicious, dense and addictive. My family loved this cake, and we enjoyed it for dessert with big glasses of cold milk. Isn't there something perfect about a slice of cake and a glass of milk?

I can't wait to make this bread again because it was gobbled up so quickly in our house! Thank you Ellie for an amazing recipe.  Check out the round-up below for other recipes from my fellow bloggers. 


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9in x 5in loaf pan. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl), combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sour cream, and vanilla.

Add wet ingredient to dry and mix until just combined with paddle attachment (using a hand mixer or stir by hand if preferred). Add chocolate chips and stir gently till combined.

Pour in to the loaf pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake 60-70 minutes. Cool and remove from loaf pan. Store in a airtight container or plastic wrap. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Creamy One-Pot Stove Top Mac and Cheese

Creamy and dreamy mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food.  My family are equal opportunity mac and cheese lovers and my boys go nuts when they know it is on the dinner menu. 

My go-to mac and cheese recipe uses a roux and takes a few pots to make. It is very easy, but who likes cleaning up all that mess? Not this girl. I have been liking making all different types of one-pot meals and thought mac and cheese would be a delicious one-pot dinner. 

I kept this recipe as simple and quick as possible for our weeknight dinner. I opted to use a sharp cheddar cheese and an ooey-gooey melty cheese like Velveeta for a perfect creamy stove top meal. 

My family gobbled up this pasta and it was a big hit for lunch the following day! I served this with grilled kielbasa sausage and fresh garden green peas. Delicious! 

Tonight, I am headed to volleyball and am grabbing dinner with Kellen, Ron, my sister and nephew before the game. Kellen is really excited to watch and tells me that he is going to play too- adorable. After the game I am heading home and my friend Emily is stopping over to ready our raffle prizes for the Belly to Baby Expo on Sunday! 

Happy hump Day everyone! 


3 1/2 cup milk (I use whole milk)
3 cup water
1 lb elbow pasta
4 oz Velveeta or other American cheese of choice
2 cup grated sharp cheddar
Salt and Pepper, to taste


In a large pot, mix together milk, water and pasta. Over medium heat, bring the pot to a low simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender and milk is reduces from absorbing into the pasta.

Turn heat to low and gently stir in the cheeses until melted and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Summer Vegetable and Italian Sausage Lasagna

I love lasagna. Normally, I opt for a traditional style lasagna, but I had leftover Red Wine Herb Marinara Sauce and thought it would be amazing in a lasagna. I had a bit of summer vegetables left from our garden and knew they would be amazing in my lasagna. 

Besides being a lasagna lover, I also love zucchini and squash. However, my husband does not love either of these things. I knew to get him to enjoy this veggie packed lasagna I needed to get nice small bites that didn't overpower the dish. I opted to grate my summer squash and zucchini to give the perfect bite. I was careful to squeeze and pat the veggies dry so my lasagna didn't get soupy. I oped to use sausage over beef or chicken because I knew it would be delicious with the red wine sauce. If you are not a fan of sausage this is great as a strictly veggie lasagna or with a different protein. 

What was the verdict from my family? They adored it. I set a few slices aside for my sister and she also loved the meal. The prep time takes a little while, but trust me it is sooooo worth the work! If you need a delicious recipe to use some of the remaining garden veggie give this a try! 

Tonight, I am making a batch of white chicken chili and organizing a few things for the Belly to Baby raffle. My friend's daughter is also coming for a short playdate and I know Kellen will be thrilled. I am also jarring my salsa and need to remember to grab a bag of chips on my way home because Ron and I need to do a little quality control! 


1 lb mild Italian sausage
2/3 cup shredded zucchini (water squeezed out)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2/3 cup shredded yellow summer squash (water squeezed out)
½ cup thawed chopped spinach
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2  1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Roma tomato cut into 8 thin slices


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown sausage until completely cooked. Drain and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, mix together spinach, ricotta, sour cream, Parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper. Set aside. 

In a 9x13 baking dish, ladle 2/3 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Layer 4 noodles over the sauce. Spread ricotta mixture over the noodles. Add 1/3 of the Italian sausage. Next, evenly spread 1/3 of the zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and squash over the ricotta. Top with 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat twice more and end with a sprinkling of mozzarella and the roma tomato slices.  

Bake covered for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and rest 15-20 minutes. Slice and serve. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 9/7 - 9/13

Good Evening! 

These last few weeks have been a bit of a blur! I was out for the count with bronchitis last week and was slacking on my weekly meal plan- the plan went a bit off the grid as I didn't feel much like cooking. 

This weekend we celebrated Labor Day with my family in Door County.  I was chomping at the bit on Saturday morning to head out the door and enjoy time at the beach. We arrived at our cottage just in time to make BLTs with fresh garden tomatoes for lunch. The kids played on the beach and eventually Kellen went down for a short nap before getting up to help with the dinner preparation. 

Shucking sweet corn!

Side note: Kellen is now potty trained! He has been working really hard and my Mom surprised him with a pair of goggles for swim for his success. He was so excited. 

Later in the evening we grilled brats and burgers and ended the night with a fire on the beach and s'mores.

The following day we spent our time on the beach playing in the lake and sand. The kids had a blast and Kellen continued his love of sandcastle destruction.  In the evening we had carryout pizza and another wonderful fire on the beach before a rainstorm. 

The following morning we packed up and headed to The Farm for one last summer visit. Kellen had his traditional picture taken by the scarecrow. 

After The Farm, we headed home and I went to see an afternoon movie with my friend Emily while Kellen napped. When I came home I made a dozen pints of freezer salsa with our fresh garden tomatoes and we had a delicious spaghetti dinner to end the weekend.  Why is it always so hard to see the weekend end! 

This week I am helping my friend Emily get ready for the Belly to Baby Expo. I also have volleyball and am hoping to bring Kellen to Quarry Quest on Saturday. I also have a few recipes I need to work one and a few parks to play at with my little guy!

Have a great week everyone!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Garlic Bread
Tuesday: Weeknight White Chicken Chili
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Lemon Pepper Pork Chops, Wild Rice and Peas
Friday: Out
Saturday: Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers and Salad
Sunday: Pizza for the Packer Game