Friday, February 27, 2015

Cheesy Pork Chop and Potato Casserole

Thursday is normally the traditional throwback day and a change to get a little nostalgic, but we are going to have a little #FBF today.  I think everyone my age had pork chop casserole at some point during their childhood. I have a co-worker who makes a pork chop casserole often and it got me thinking about making my own variation on this retro family recipe. I make my own cream of chicken soup for recipes like this, but canned works if that is what you have on hand. I also prefer cheddar cheese, but if you like something else by all means go to town. This recipe is really easy and something you can put together ahead of time during a busy week and pop in the oven at dinner time. My favorite part of the casserole? The onions in the hashbrowns and on top of the casserole...so good. I do not make my own, but if you are so inclined you certainly could do it. One note of preparing early: add the onions on top before it goes in the oven so they do not get soggy- no one wants a soggy semi crispy onion.

My family loves this recipe and Kellen's love of all things pork has moved into pork chops. This recipe also makes fantastic leftover for the following day. I made this recipe with 4 pork chops since they were larger and had a bit of potatoes left. I loved this because I ate them for breakfast with my egg the following morning- yum! 

I am so happy that is is Friday....long week... I am also excited because my Kayla and I are taking the kids to an bouncy type place tomorrow morning. In reality I am just excited to jump around..... In the evening my friend Amanda is coming to town to grab dinner and drinks at Plae Bistro (my favorite!). 

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend! 


Ingredients

4-6 pork chops (depending on thickness/size and how many you are feeding)
1 tsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 oz French's Fried Onion
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2/3 cup milk
1 package of frozen hashbrowns, thawed
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3 oz French's Fried Onion


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish withe lightly greasing with cooking spray. 

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Brown pork chops on both sides to get a nice crust and sear (about 2 minutes per side).  

While the pork chops are cooking, mix soup, sour cream, garlic powder, pepper, 3 oz onions (a regular container is 6 oz), 2/3 cup cheese and milk in a large mixing bowl. Once combined, mix in the hashbrowns and spread into the prepared baking dish. Nestle pork chops on top of the hashbrowns. Top with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and finish with 3 oz of onions. 

Bake for 45-60 minutes or until pork is cooked. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Ale Sauce

I have another amazing pork tenderloin recipe on the menu today! I have cracked out a few different recipes over the past few months, but this might be my favorite one. I love mustard in sauces and decided to give it a try with beer. I could not just use any beer and opted for one of my favorite types- amber ale. I opted add a shallots and a bit of cream as well. The result was a velvety sauce rich in dijon flavor with a slight bitterness from the amber ale paired with marinated and seared pork- amazing!  This gives me a serious hankering for a mustard sauce…. This recipe is super easy and quick for a nice weeknight meal. Kellen loves pork tenderloin and this was right up his ally of favorite things. 

Speaking of Kellen- his first swim class went awesome! The instructor even commented on how well he could kick his legs in the water and he was brave enough to jump off the side (with help from Grandma of course). I am really hoping that this enjoyment continues because it is so nice for him to have something he could do year round (and that we both really enjoy).  

Tonight we are headed to dinner with Ron’s family to celebrate birthdays. We have a few bunch of birthdays close together and we opt to grab dinner together in February and May to celebrate. It is always a lot of fun and I am excited to see the family! I am also excited for a nice big glass of cabernet as well- yummy! After dinner we will come home and relax and watch the first episode from the new season of Survivor! I am a big Survivor fan and Ron is just starting to jump on the bandwagon after watching last season.  The concept of white collar, blue collar and no collar interests me and I think the dynamic will be interesting (especially when they merg).  





Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1/2 cup amber ale
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Three sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Tbl olive oil
1/8 cup Dijon mustard 
1 cup amber ale 
1 pint heavy cream 
1 shallot, minced


Instructions

In a medium bowl, whisk Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbl mustard, 1/2 cup amber ale, 1/8 cup olive oil, thyme springs and salt. Place pork tenderloin in a resealable bag and pour inthe the marinate tossing to coat. Place pork in the fridge and allow it to marinate for at least 8 hours (you can do less, but flavor will be better the longer you marinate). 

Remove pork from marinate and heat 1 Tbl olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven safe skillet. Brown pork tenderloin on all sides.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until the pork registers 155-160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil to keep warm, and rest for while you prepare the sauce (about 10 min).

Add the shallots to the same pan used to roast the pork. Saute over medium heat for about a minute. Add the beer and scrape the cooked bits from the skillet. Whisk in the cream and dijon. Allow the sauce to slightly simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes (the sauce should be thick enough to heavily coat a spoon). 

Slice pork tenderloin and spoon sauce over the top. Serve immediately. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Grilled Pesto Chicken Bacon Sandwich with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Do you watch Chopped? It is one of my favorite food shows. I love the surprise and anticipation of what the basket ingredients are going to be fore the pull back the black wicker tops!  Well, I am sure that you can imagine my excitement to learn about the Chopped At Home contest with Sargento Cheese. The rules were simple- create a dish using the following basket ingredients: Sargento Chef Blends Shredded 6 Cheese Italian, chicken breasts, red peppers and greek yogurt. The cheese blend had mozzarella, smoked provolone, romano, fontina, asiago and parmesan cheese-yum!

I decided that I was going to enter and I knew that I could come up with something super tasty with the basket ingredients.  My first thought was to a stuffed chicken, but that seemed a little safe to me and I decided on a sandwich. However, I wasn't going to make any old sandwich- I wanted a big meaty two hands and a stack of napkins sandwich.  I wanted to roast the peppers because I knew it would blend well with the cheese and yogurt to make a delicious sauce for my chicken. I also settled on smoky bacon, sweet onions and a handful of peppery arugula to give a big punch of flavor.  The sandwich has lots of components, but they are all simple and can be prepared at different times to fit your meal time schedule.  I also opted to use a bolillo roll for the sandwich because I love the size for a chicken breast and it makes the perfect sized bite.

My husband loved this sandwich and devoured his portion before sneaking off to find more bacon.  We both agreed that the sandwich was super filling and needed to be back on our meal plan as soon as possible! So hearty and delicious.... The pesto compliments the sweetness of the red pepper and onions, the salty smoky bacon is fantastic and the fresh arugula is the perfect touch of sharpness. 

If you want to enter check out Food Networks page for Chopped At Home. The first round ends March 2nd and then voting for the semi-finalists of round one starts. If a dish does not make it past round one you can submit a new one for a remaining round.  I am sure it is a long shot, but it would be really fun to win (or even make it to the semi-finals!).

Tonight my friend Emily is stopping over for a little SVU action and Ron is going to grill burgers (we have been on a “summer food” kick).  I am also anxiously awaiting a call from my mom to let me know how Kellen’s first swimming class went!  


Ingredients

1 red bell pepper
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt 
3/4 cup Sargento 6 Italian Cheese Blend
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts  
1/2 cup pesto
One large sweet onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons of butter
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp
1 - 1 1/2 cup fresh arugula
4 rolls bolillo rolls, halved lengthwise


Instructions

to roast the pepper:
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray it with cooking spray. Remove the top of the pepper and slice in half. Remove the seeds and place skin side up on the baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes or until skin is charred and pepper is tender. Remove peppers from the oven and place the peppers into a resealable bag. Allow the pepper to rest for 15-20 minutes. Remove peppers from the bag and peel off the blackened skin. 

Place chicken between two pieces of wax paper and pour to ½ inch thickness. Place chicken in a large resealed bag, add pesto and gently toss to coat. Seal bag and place in fridge for at least an 60 minutes or up to 8 hours.  

In a medium rimmed skillet, cook onions and butter over medium-low heat until the onions are caramelized and medium golden brown. When the onions are done cooking remove them from the heat, and  cover to keep warm.

While chicken marinates and onions cook, place roasted peppers, yogurt, cheese and pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse till smooth and set aside.

Heat grill to medium heat. Remove chicken from marinate and grill chicken 3-5 minutes per side or until no longer pink.  Place cooked chicken on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread red pepper and cheese mixture over the bolillo rolls. Place on a baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, but keep an eye to make sure the rolls do not burn.  Remove the rolls from the oven and layer fresh arugula on the bottom bun. Place chicken breast over arugula, followed by crispy bacon, caramelized onions and the remaining half of the bun.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

English Muffin Bread

Welcome to February's What's Baking!

We were challenged to bake bread this month and I immediately knew that I wanted to try my hand at the popular English Muffin Bread recipe that has been popping up on all sorts of blog recently. Ron and I love english muffins and they have been on my cooking bucket list for a long time (soon I will try to make them!). The nooks and crannies are what gets me with an english muffin. I love mine fresh from the toaster with a bit of peanut butter. I love how the warm muffin melts the peanut butter....I am drooling just thinking about it. I decided to use a recipe for English Muffin Bread from Playing with Flour (original recipe is from Cook's Country) because the recipe was simple and received great reviews!

This bread could not be easier to make! The thing that takes the longest is waiting for it to rise, and beyond that the oven does all the work! I was impatient waiting for the bread to cool, and was so happy to see tons of nooks and crannies when I sliced the bread to try a piece. I spread a little of my favorite wild blueberry jam from Bonne Maman on a fresh slice of bread and it was fantastic! I love fresh bread and am so happy for challenges like this to make me try something new and delicious.

Tomorrow Kellen is with my mom for the day and he has his first swimming lesson! I am so excited for him, and can't wait to hear all of his stories! He loved swimming so much the last few times we went I couldn't help, but sign him up for class to give him more time in the pool.


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 Tbl sugar
1/2  tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to 120 degrees
Cornmeal, for pan


Instructions

Whisk flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Make a small well in the center and add the warmed milk into it.  Stir with a wooden spoon until combined and dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

Lightly spray plastic wrap with vegetable oil and tightly cover the bowl.  Let sit in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.  

Spray a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with cooking spray and dust with cornmeal. Give dough a stir with knock it down a bit.   The batter will be sticky and should fill the pans about 2/3 of the way.  Use a spatula to push the dough into the corners.  Cover the pans with greased plastic wrap.  Let sit to rise for 30 minutes. The dough should rise near to the top of the pan.

Bake in a 375 degree oven, in the middle rack for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.  The internal temperature of the finished loaf should be 200 degrees when done.  

Makes 1 loaf


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 2/23 - 3/1

Happy Monday!

Hope you had a great weekend!  On Friday, we had dinner with my parents, but not before a bit of vehicle excitement. On the way to dinner Ron’s car started making a clunking sound and we quickly went home to grab our other car, drop off his at the shop and switch cars….all in a lovely snow storm. I was feeling a bit stressed and crabby, but was very thankful to my big glass of cabernet when we finally made it to the restaurant.  After dinner, we headed home and settled into bed early because we have lots on the agenda for the weekend.  On Saturday, this little guy was up and ready for swimming in the late morning, but not before a big breakfast of yogurt, raspberries, a waffles and turkey sausage.  Kellen loved breakfast at home on the weekend and I love to make him his favorites!


After breakfast, I ran around to get my grocery shopping done and flowers picked up for a Blessing Way the following afternoon. I spied these babies on the shelves (new this year is sour watermelon)! My sister and I are big Peep fans, and always get excited when they pop up…esp the  pink bunnies. 


In the afternoon, we went swimming with our friends and had a fantastic time! Kellen is a little fish and loves the pool. He is actually starting swim class with my mom This week he was really excited when we talked about it, and I hope he continues loving it!  During the afternoon I ran around a little more before heading home to get ready for burgers and gifts at our friend’s house. The kids are all close in age and were so fun to watch run around together!  We left around 8 to get Kellen home for bed and catch up on an episode of Cold Justice  (love that show).

On Sunday, I prepped for my friend's Blessing Way. A Blessing Way or Mother's Blessing stems from an old native american ceremoney to honor a mother-to-be. The blessing is all about nurturing and celebrating motherhood.  There are many different things you can do, but we opted to a rock ceremony, a cord ceremony and a candle ceremony. We also sipped a little raspberry leaf tea. 







and of course there was henna for the mama-to-be and guests. Do you like my dragon tail? I wanted dragon tails and chains- Mother of Dragons & Breaker of Chains (could I be a bigger Game of Thrones nerd right now?)!



We enjoyed spaghetti with meat sauce, caprese salad and garlic knots for dinner.  I also made a few mocktails for the group- blood orange and pineapple!  We had such a lovely evening- I was sad when it was over!

  

Ron and I cleaned to house and relaxed with Kellen for the remainder of the evening.  However, the weekend was not complete until my friend Emily sent me this gem. I of course needed to pass it to my creepy-ass doll loving sister because I love to scare her. Her response was classic and I just needed to share this bit of hilarity with you this morning!

This week, like I mention before, Kellen starts swimming! We are also heading to Appleton to have dinner with the Lecker Family. We normally like to grab dinner together to celebrate birthdays since we have two clusters of birthday in February and late April/early May.  This weekend I am looking forward to drinks and dinner with my friend Amanda for a little post birthday celebration! 
Have a great week!
Here is what is on tap:
Monday: Chicken Sandwiches for Chopped Challenge
Tuesday: Pizza
Wednesday: Burgers with Caramelized Onion, Bacon Brie Burgers and Potato Wedges
Thursday: Out with the Leckers
Friday: Creamy Balsamic and Herb Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Brussel
Saturday:  Out
Sunday: Lunch- Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion Dinner-Roasted Herb De Provence Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Green Beans

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lemon Basil Vodka

Whoo Hoo it's Friday (and time for a cocktail??) It is also time for February's Crazy Ingredient Challenge.



The ingredients for this month is lemons and basil- two of my favorite things. I love citrus and herbs, and we play around a lot with different flavor combinations at our house. However, one thing I have been really wanting to make was an infused vodka. One of my favorite summer drinks is vodka on the rocks with a splash of lemonade and, since it is SO cold right now, anything to remind me of summer is a necessity.  I have made other infused vodkas in the past and knew this combo would be a winner.  After my batch was ready I used my vodka with a small splash of lemonade and it brought me back to sitting on my deck relaxing in the summer time....ahhhh.... Another awesome use for this vodka (besides drinking it all yourself...) is to bottle it up and give it to friends for a little winter pick me up. 

I was worried that the basil flavor would be covered by all them lemon, but it did not get muddled at all. I have already been thinking of different fruits to make more vodka....I think my next will be strawberry basil, but that will have to wait till summer.

Tonight we are headed out for dinner with my parents, and tomorrow a swimming birthday party with our friends. On Sunday, I am co-hosting a Blessing Way (and making spaghetti) for our friend and mama-to-be. So excited! 

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 everyone else made, and what next month will bring! 


Ingredients

6 lemons, sliced very thing
1 bunch of fresh basil, torn int pieces
Vodka
2 large mason jars


Instructions

Evenly layer lemons and basil between the two mason jars. Pour vodka into the mason jars and screw on the top to seal. Store in a cool dry place for 3-4 days. 

Remove tops and strain. Pour into bottles and store in the fridge.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Roasted Coffee Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Cream Sauce

Time for February's Improv Cooking Challenge!

The theme for this month is coffee and cream. My first thought was dessert, but I thought it was a little too easy, and I wanted to create a savory dish. We have had a lot of pork tenderloin lately and I thought a coffee crust would be phenomenal on with pan roasted pork and a nice cream sauce. I made the rub with breakfast blend ground coffee, seasoning, a little sugar and herbs. I knew I wanted to get a little booze into my sauce and thought bourbon with a little cream and a little dijon would be amazing. This pork was absolutely delicious! The coffee crust was flavorful and rich. The coffee flavor was actually not very strong, but came out just enough when paired with the cream sauce.  For the cream sauce, I scraped all the flavorful bit from the pan after adding a bit of bourbon to the pan. I removed my pan from the heat prior to adding the bourbon so I didn't get a big flare up because I cook on flame and have a overhead range. Once the booze was well incorporated I whisked in the cream and dijon, and reduced to create a creamy sauce. 

Kellen has been loving pork tenderloin and loved this recipe. He especially loved dipping the pork into the sauce (he loved dipping his green beans too!). Tonight, Ron and I are relaxing and catching up on a few chores and a few shows. I just saw an ad that Survivor starts next week!!!!! I am also really looking forward to The Following starting in two weeks....I can be such a t.v. freak sometimes....

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 Chicken and Noodles!


Ingredients

1 1/2 Tbl ground coffee (I used a breakfast blend)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 Tbl brown sugar
1 pork tenderloin (about a pound)
1/3 cup bourbon 
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 pt heavy cream


Instructions

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Mix the coffee, thyme, garlic powder, pepper, brown sugar and salt together in a small bowl. Evenly rub the coffee mixture into the pork tenderloin. 

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven safe skillet. Brown pork tenderloin on all sides.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the pork registers 155-160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent withh foil to keep warm, and rest for while you prepare the sauce (about 10 min).

With the heat off, add the bourbon and return to medium heat on the stove top. Scrape the cooked bits from the skillet and whisk in the cream and dijon. Allow the sauce to slightly simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes (the sauce should be thick enough to heavily coat a spoon). 

Slice pork tenderloin and spoon sauce over the top. Serve immediately. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Homemade Ham and Cheddar "Hot Pockets"

Are you a hot pocket lover? Hot Pockets were one of my favorite things in high school and college.  My favorite kind was ham and cheese or 4 cheese with marinara sauce. It has been about 10 years since my last Hot Pocket, but I almost pause as I pass by them while at the grocery store.  I saw Amber of Dessert Now, Dinner later post a recipe for Ham and Cheese Pockets and I was immediately sold. I knew that these would be a super easy weeknight meal, and a big hit with my big and little guy.  The only change I made to the recipe was to omit the mustard because I wanted the plain-jane ham and cheese flavors from my nostalgic Hot Pocket days.

The verdict? Love at first bite! These are sooooo good and my family gobbled them up. This recipe makes 8 pockets and we had 2 left…. We chowed down! Kellen really enjoyed the meal and exclaimed several time “I love the pockets Mama!”.  He is so sweet and cute.  Speaking of sweet and cute….. I dropped Kellen at daycare on yesterday and realized that he is a little ladies man. There were two little girls who wanted to help him with take his jacket off and then, when his teacher  pulled them away, another little girl wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. Floor meet jaw. Isn’t he too young for girls???? I thought I was safe a two years old, but apparently not. Sigh.

In other exciting news, Zulily had TOMS on sale today! I might have stocked up and grabbed a new pair for Kellen and I..... we needed a pick me up during the cold winter!

Tonight my friend Emily is coming over for a little SVU action and dinner! Her daughter is a little younger than Kellen and it is cute to watch them play together! We are also having a party for a friend (and mamma-to-be) on Sunday and will be doing a little planning for that as well. 

Have you been watching Walking Dead?? I really liked last week’s episode and it looks like there is tons of action coming up….. I am also counting down the days till April 12th and Game of Thrones can come back into my life! I have read all the books and have re-watched series, and am excited for it to return. 


Ingredients

1 box Puff Pastry Sheets (2 pack)
16-24 slices of thin deli ham
8 medium slices mild cheddar cheese
1 large egg, whisked


Instructions

Thaw the puff pastry on the counter top so it is pliable, but still cool to the touch (about 30 minutes or so).

 Cut each pastry sheet into fourths and roll each square slightly wider so there is room for the filling.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Add 2-3 slices of ham and 1 slice of cheese (folded) on half of each pastry square. Brush some egg on the edges of the half of the square with meat and cheese and fold over the top and seal the edges with a fork.

Place pockets on prepared baking sheet. Cut a few slits on top of each pocket with  for ventilation, and brush the tops with the egg.

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes (mine were perfect at 20 minutes).  The dough will rise and get flakey, and make sure to check the bottom of the pocket to make sure the dough is fully cooked. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole

Casseroles are amazing this time of year. Rich, creamy, meaty, filling casseroles...perfect for a cold night and awesome for lunch leftover the following day.  One of my family's favorite casseroles fitting this description is Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole. I use the traditional ingredients of a chicken noodle soup, homemade cream base and buttery bread crumbs to creamy this comforting meal.  Another reason to love this meal is that it can be made before dinner time and only requires a quick trip to the oven and you are ready to eat!  I use a homemade cream of chicken soup, but in a pinch you certainly can use canned. I also saute the veggies prior to putting them in the casserole because if cuts down on cook time and ensures that you have tender veggies in your casserole. This casserole is one of Kellen's favorite meals not because of the creamy chicken and noodles, but the tender veggies (the kids loves peas!). Anytime I can get a Kellen approved meal that he devours I am a happy mother. 

Tonight, we are having a quick dinner before I head to the gym for a little weight training (love it), and a much needed hair cut and a little time to visit with my friend Tracy. Ron and Kellen got their hair cut last week and I am tried of feeling like the shaggy dog. Truth be told I will just be getting and trim, but in the past have done big chops or bangs on a whim....we will see. 


Ingredients

1/2 medium white one, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 Tbl olive oil
2/3 cup frozen peas
1 Recipe cream of chicken soup (equivalent of 2 cans)
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
2 Tbl milk
2 tsp sour cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 - 2/3 lb cooked egg noodles
1 cup panko breadcrumbs 
Half stick butter, melted


Instructions

Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add olive oil. Sautéed carrots onion and celery until tender and add peas. In a large bowl, mix chicken, vegetables, cream of chicken soup, sour cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Gently, fold in the noodles. 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Spread chicken casserole in a greased medium sized baking dish. Toss bread crumbs with melted butter and spread over the top of the casserole. Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes or until browned, hot and bubbly. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 2/16 - 2/22

Good Evening!

I hope everyone had a fantastic and romantic (if that is your thing) weekend of love.... or whatever.  I promised I would share Kellen costume from superhero/valentine's party at daycare- they are so adorable! The costume come courtesy of Grandma's dress up box!

Super Kellen ready for his party!


Kellen and Mom 2 minutes after his meltdown because I clearly have no idea what I am doing and put the mask on wrong....the shame. We had to call Grandma to say good morning and find "our good humor" (as Grandma would tell us).  Luckily Kellen found his good humor and had an excellent time at his party with his friends from daycare.



Skip forward to Valentine's Day: we started the day slowly and I ran a few errands in the morning, but we met my parents from lunch later in the day. Kellen was treated to a dessert (a caramelita) and he thought it was fantastic. 



We headed home and Kellen climbed into bed to rest, and I headed out to get a pedicure with my mom and sister- perfect Valentine dates. Ron was resting when I got back and I got a head start on dinner so Kellen could dine with us before heading to bed. Our go-to Valnetine's Day dinner is grilled steak with caramelized onion blue cheese sauce, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. The recipe for the sauce is so easy and originally some from Pioneer Woman, but I have it posted on here a few years back....I should have updated the photo when I had the chance! I bought Kansas Strip steaks this year and they were incredible. Kellen is a steak love was was thrilled to get a few pieces (with sauce!) on his plate. He also enjoyed a little mac and cheese from the deli because it is Valentine's Day and it is one of his favorites! After Kellen went to bed Ron and I kicked back with The Closer (one of our favorite shows that is sadly not on anymore!). 



The following morning we were up early to head to Appleton to pick up our niece for a day of fun to celebrate her birthday. First stop was to see the Wildlife Sanctuary, then lunch and finally to the Green Bay Children's Museum. The museum had a special event going on called Pirates and Pixies and, as you can see, Kellen enjoyed "splashing" in the mermaid (man?) pool. 

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Ron and I were seated in the diner waiting to be served lunch by the kids. 


The museum is so lovely and it is set up like a little town for kids to enjoy. In has a grocery store, Packer tailgating zone, diner, building area, firehouse, vet clinic, a club house, post office and a boat.  Kellen thought the fishing was a blast! 

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We headed home and after for much needed naps. Later we made dinner and my sister stopped over to drop off a few Valentine's gifts for Kellen.

I am getting ready to check out for the night and get ready for a busy week (and watch Walking Dead & Shameless...who am I kidding)! I hope everyone has a great week- catch you tomorrow!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday:Orange and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, Wild Rice and Green Beans
Tuesday: Italian Sausage Ravioli w/ Red Sauce, Salad and Garlic Bread
Wednesday: Mexican Meatballs, Rice and Beans
Thursday: Tuna Melt Casserole and Salad
Friday: Chili from the Freezer
Saturday: Birthday Party/Pizza!
Sunday: Dinner with my Girlfriends

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cheddar Bacon Risotto

Cheese and bacon.... such a perfect partnership. They go great with so many dishes: chicken, pasta, pizza and, in this case, risotto. You all know that I love to dig into risotto and love the different flavor combinations that are possible. We decided to grill bbq chicken (yep, we grill in the snow!) for dinner a few nights ago and I wanted to create a tasty side to serve a long side our chicken. I knew the flavors of bbq would be amazing next to cheddar and bacon. Of course, it was amazing and I loved the flavor the cheddar gave to the risotto versus the normal Parmesan cheese we use for a typical risotto recipe. I am no stranger to outside the box risotto recipes ( bone broth, eggs benedict, cheddar beer, beet and kale...ect), but I think that this is my new all time favorite outside the box risotto. Even thought it is a little different than the normal I stuck to my staples- white wine and chicken stock, but I think an amber ale would taste awesome in place of the wine.  

If you have a bacon lover that you want to impress whip up a batch of this on Saturday and they will be drooling, and you will probably get to pick the movie for the evening (bonus)! I would personally pick Jurassic Park or Aliens because I am romantic like that. Adventure sci-fi = love in my book.

Tonight, my friend Kayla and the kids are coming by for dinner. We decided that we are grilling brats. I think when the dead of winter comes my brain tries to combat it by living in denial and grilling in the snow but, either way, the brats will be delicious. This weekend we are having a low key Valentine's day and grilling (yep, again) and watching a movie (hopefully I get to pick). I will not be going to see 50 Shades of Grey. To be fair, I gave it a chance and read the books....not impressed.  Like I said, I would rather watch Jurassic Park....actually I would rather watch Predator 2 than 50 Shades.... On Sunday, we are picking up my niece for a day of fun for her birthday! I am so excited- Kellen will be thrilled to hang with his cousin. 

Oh yeah, an update on the Valentine's cookies for Kellen's party. I bought some and piped the kid's names on them They look adorable and I didn't cry trying to get my royal icing perfect. Win-win. Today is also superhero day in Kellen's class and he looks adorable... I will post a picture in my meal plan on Monday for your enjoyment. 

Have a great weekend! 


Ingredients

10 slices of bacon
1 shallot, chopped
1 Tbl garlic
1 cup dry white wine 
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 Tbl chopped thyme
3/4 cup sharp cheddar
1/2 tsp white pepper


Instructions

Place stock in a medium saucepan. Bring  to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low-medium heat.

Cook bacon till crisp in a large rimmed skillet. Remove bacon from pan to a paper towel lined plate. Drain all great from skillet except for 1 tablespoon. 

Heat dripping over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes or till tender. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds- 1 minute. Stir in rice, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium and add 1/2 cup wine; cook about 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Continue by adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next. Add thyme with the last portion of stock. While stock finished absorbing chop the bacon and stir it in the risotto, but reserve 2 tablespoons for topping. Remove risotto from heat and stir in the cheese. Season with white pepper. 

Plate and top with reserved chopped bacon. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Peppered Pork Tenderloin with Soy Caramel Sauce

This was one of those recipe that made me "mmmmmm" at my computer screen. For a period of time I forgot about pork tenderloin (yes, I know....), and it wasn't until recently that remembered how much I love it! This recipe comes from Caroline of The Barbee Housewife and, like I said, I might have drooled a little bit when she first posted it. I loved the idea of the peppery pork paired with the sweet soy sauce, and thought it would make a perfect weeknight dinner for my family. The pork is really easy to make and the sauce is even easier!  The recipe made the perfect amount for my family of 2 adult and a small child but, like Caroline recommends, make a little more if you want leftovers for two lunches or have more people to feed.  The winning element of this dish for me was the sauce. It is pretty sweet, but because of the pepper on the pork I found it really delicious.  Ron also loved the dish, but kept his sauce on the side because he is not as big of a sweet fan as I am when it comes to certain sauces. Kellen loved the pork and loved dipping his little pieces into the sauce before popping them into his mouth. I kept close to the original recipe and only made a slight alteration with fresh thyme (had some on hand) and brown sugar (love it with soy sauce). 

I woke up this morning and could not believe that it is Wednesday already! I feel like I have a lot to do before Friday….mainly due to Kellen’s Superhero/Valentine party at daycare. He gets to dress up as his favorite hero (aw!) and bring a treat for the party to share. Since there are only ten kids in the class I decided that I am going to make conversation heart cookies with royal icing…. Now that the deadline looms my goal has become a bit more intimidating, but I am hoping they turn out cute! I have made this type of cookie before and I remember that they are a bit putsy….  However, I know that the kids will think they are fun….and I will get to eat the test batch (if we are really being honest here that will be the best part).  I will let you know on Friday how my project turned out, or if I ran to the store last minute. 

Happy hump day everyone! 



Ingredients

For the Pork:
1/2 Tbl Crushed Peppercorns
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Pork Tenderloin (about 1 lb)
1 Tbl Olive Oil

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup Water
1/8 cup Granulated Sugar
1/8 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbl Soy Sauce
1 Tbl Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/8 tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tbl Butter


Instructions

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Mix the crushed peppercorns, thyme, and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the peppercorn blend into the pork tenderloin. 

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven safe skillet. Brown pork tenderloin on all sides.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the pork registers 155-160 degrees. Remove from the oven and let sit and let the pork rest for 5 minutes.

Shortly before the pork is removed from the oven, make the sauce (about 10 minutes). In a small saucepan, combine the sugars and water, bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the liquid is about 1/4 cup. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, dijon, and spices. When the liquid reduces to 1/4 cup, remove from heat and whisk in the soy sauce mixture. Next, whisk in the butter.

Slice the pork tenderloin and serve with the soy-caramel sauce drizzles on top, or on the side.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Slowcooker Spicy Chorizo and Cheese Dip

First, congrats to all the winners from the #TripleSBites blogging event! I hope you love your prizes- the sponsors were wonderfully generous for our give away! 

My husband is a man who is very easy to please when it comes to food. He rarely complains and it always up to try something new. However, there are a few things that my husband always requests! My friend Brittanie makes a variation of this dip, and brought it over to our house to share. Ron loved it so much and was always asking me to make a version for him to enjoy at home. The dip couldn't be easier (it only has three ingredients!). I made this for my family to enjoy during the Super Bowl and my entire family loved it! I am not a big processed cheese lover, but there is something about this type of cheese that makes dipping perfect- spicy chorizo helps too! I like that this dip allows for all different types of add-ins. We opted for chorizo and rotel, but the choices are endless! If you do not use a slow cooker this time can easily be made using the microwave or stove top to melt the cheese. 

Tonight, I am headed to the gym and home to relax with Kellen and Ron. After a long weekend it sometimes feels like you need a few more days to relax! Thankfully, this coming weekend is going to all take place at home and we will get a chance to lounge around the house a bit more. I also have a few shows to catch up on- Walking Dead...eeekkkk!!!! I am loving that show.....


Ingredients

1lb ground chorizo
1 lb Velveeta Queso Blanco, cut in to cubes
1 can original Rotel, drained


Instructions

Cook chorizo in a skillet over medium heat until completely cooked. Drain and add to a medium slow cooker. Add cheese and Rotel. Set slow cooker to low and cook for 4 hours stirring frequently. Serve with tortilla chips and cold beer. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

#TripleSBites Red Wine & Spiced Fig Glazed Cornish Game Hens

Welcome to the last day of #TripleSBites!

I introduced this event, sponsors and bloggers in my preview post and please click here to visit and learn more about our sponsors. Also, I want to thank Camilla of Culinary Adventure with Camilla. This lady has worked so hard to put this event together and deserves many rounds of applause- head over to her blog and show her some love! This was such a fun event and our sponsors were wonderful! I am always sad when these are over, but look forward to another round down the road! 

I am ending Triple S Bites with a cornish game hen recipe using ingredients from two of our sponsors- Not Ketchup and Garden GourmetGourmet Garden was kind enough to send participants 17 different herb products (stir-in pastes and lightly dried) for this challenge. I opted to use the lightly dried herbs in my glaze and it was delicious!  Not Ketchup was another great sponsor and set participants a bottle of their flavor of choice. Not Ketchup is a fruit ketchup that uses savory flavors to create amazing dipping sauces for all types of entrees and side dishes. I opted to get a bottle of Spiced Fig and the flavor was rich, zesty and a tad sweet- perfect for a my glaze. 

Cornish game hens were something that my Dad always made for dinner. He always roasted them simple with a wild rice stuffing. I opted to keep the traditional rice stuffing and make a delicious and savory glaze. I planned to use Not Ketchup in Spiced Fig and thought the flavors of balsamic, red wine and brown sugar would work perfectly. I loved the way the glaze caramelized and created a delicious crust around the hens. Pulling these from the oven is always impressive for guests (or your family), and wrapped in a rich glaze or crisped skin makes it even better! 

I hope you have enjoyed this blogging even as much as I have! Please do not forget to enter below to win our amazing prize package! I hope that you have discovered a few different recipes to share with your loved ones from our spicy, saucy and sexy offerings!


Ingredients

1/2 cup Not Ketchup Spiced Fig
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup red wine
1 Tbl brown sugar
1 tsp garlic gourmet Garden
1 tsp Gourmet Garden Lighty Dried Parsely or 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Cornish Game Hens
1 1/2 cup cooked wild rice (I use Uncle Ben's Original Blend)
Salt and Pepper


Instructions

In a sauce pan, mix together Not Ketchup, mustard, balsamic, wine, sugar, parsley, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper. Bring to a simmer of medium heat and then reduce to low and allow the glaze to reduce by half. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent the sauce from burning. Remove from heat and allow the glaze to cool slightly.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Pat the hens dry and stuff with wild rice. Season with salt and pepper and liberally brush with the glaze. Place in a roasting pan and roast for about 60 minutes or until the temperature reaches 165 degrees. When the hens are in the last 15 minutes of roasting, generously brush the hens with the glaze. Return to over and allow the hens to finish roasting and glaze to set. 

Remove from the over and allow the hens to rest 5-10 minutes before carving and serving. 



The Giveaway 
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Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment (below) and tell me What's your favorite romantic dish to cook for your sweetheart? Many more ways to enter in the Rafflecopter widget [below].

This giveaway is open to residents of the United States only, age 18 and older. This #TripleSBites 2015 giveaway runs from Monday, February 2, 2015 12:00am PT through Monday, February 9, 2015 at 6:00pm PT. Winners will be randomly chosen and announced on February 10, 2015. Winners will also be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond to the email. If a winner does not respond in that time a new winner will be chosen. For more information, see the full terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter widget.

Disclaimer: All prize packages were provided free of charge. Participating bloggers received complimentary product(s) for their #TripleSBites posts. All opinions stated are my own.

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