Sunday, August 30, 2015

Roasted Jalapeño Salsa

Welcome to a special Secret Recipe Club reveal on honor of all thing tailgating! 

When I heard the theme for this challenge it was music to my ears! I am a Wisconsin girl but, to hit the target even harder, I am a GREEN BAY, Wisconsin girl. I live in Titletown and tailgating is almost as big of a deal as football here.  When I tell people about our tailgating practices they think it's odd, but it's totally normal here. Normally, when we get ready to tailgate you need a few basics: food (brats) and  drinks (beer, shots, bloody mar bar set up...ect).  My husband and I have a set up we bring with to Packer games and it is: a folding table, a few coolers, bag/folding chairs, overhead covering if it is raining, grill/supplies, utensil, plates, paper towel rolls, football and other yard games. When we head to a Packer game we usually park in the bar area for $20 because you can tailgate in the lot and all the surrounding bars have tents and live bands and/or music starting around 8 or 9 am. We  like to get a good spot and will usually get to tailgating around 7:30 - 8 am for a 12:00 pm kick-off.  Normally, the good tailgating areas are packed around 9:00 - 9:30 in the morning.  

Our set up has the basics, but some of our neighbors do some pretty awesome things. I think one of my favorites was a pair of guys making Jager and root beer slushies with a blender attached to a pair of motorcycle handle bars and passing them around to everyone. 

After the game, you can head back for a little more tailgating, but many people spend the remainder of the day/night in the tents for the after game parties with music and more drinks. 

So, that was a quick idea of a Sunday afternoon in Green Bay!

For this challenge, I was assigned the blog Karen's Kitchen Stories.  I didn't see a lot of sports talk, but I saw many beautiful baked goods on her blog. Karen is a very talented baker from California. She is a Mom and Grandma and, in her bio, she describes from of her grandchildren drinking sprinkles from a jar and it made me laugh out loud because I could see my Kellen doing the exact same thing! Karen had loads of yummy looking appetizers on her blog such as Mini Ground Beef Tacos and One Pot Sticky Chicken Wings.  However, her recipe for  Roasted Jalapeño Salsa caught my eye and I have a ton of fresh roma tomatoes and jalapeños from my garden (I actually added a few extra to the recipe because I had lots to use up!). The recipe is so easy and makes a perfect portion of salsa to bring to a tailgate! This salsa is spicy and I loved the kick it gave to my taste buds! 

Now that football season is here I can't wait to make another batch to bring to a game. Plus, what wakes a person better than a nice bite from a spicy salsa! Thank you Karen for an amazing new recipe! 


10 Roma tomatoes, halved
4 Jalapeño peppers, tops cut off and halved
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, to taste


Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. 

Line a sheet pan with foil and place tomatoes and jalapeños  cut-side up on the pan. Roast till tender and juices begin to slightly flow on the the baking sheet. This takes 20-35 minutes. The tomatoes and peppers should be slightly charred. 

Remove from oven and place in a food processor with garlic and plus till smooth. 

Season with salt and cool in the fridge till ready to serve. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 8/24 - 8/30

Happy.... Tuesday? I have got to get on top of my weeks! 

I am a little behind this week but, as they say, better late than never! 

This past weekend was fun! On Friday night, we met our friends after work to play at the park and walk by the water. The littles are so cute and loved the nice warm evening. 

On Saturday, it was nice and warm and my friend Emily and I headed to our friend Kayla's for the kids could play on the waterside and enjoy the nice weather. The kids had a blast and enjoyed pizza and homemade dirt dessert  for lunch. Kayla made them in individual cups and the kids gobbled it up!  We headed home for naps and to do a little cleaning. Ron was in Milwaukee for his fantasy football draft party and I had a chance to catch up and make a little salsa with our roma tomatoes from the garden. 

On Sunday, we headed to the zoo with friends after a morning thunderstorm. The animals were all very lively and the biggest hit was watching the penguins swim! 

After to zoo, we headed home for the Packer game and to relax. We napped and met my in-laws for dinner later in the evening at Grazies. Kellen loves the spaghetti at Grazies and was brave enough to great the waitress and place his own order! It was so cute. After dinner, we headed home for bed and a little relaxation. I watched the new show Fear the Walking Dead and really enjoyed it. I like the characters a lot and, being a Walking Dead fan, I really like seeing the roots of the story. 

This week we do not have a lot on our schedule, but are heading up to Door County for the day on Saturday to visit my cousins and aunt. 

Have a great week! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: BLTs and Watermelon
Tuesday:Grilled Steaks, Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli Gratin 
Wednesday:  Creamy Tex Mex Slow Cooker Chicken and Cilantro Lime Rice
Thursday: Slowcooker French Dip Sandwiches with Au Jus and Watermelon
Friday: Cheesy Baked Tex Mex  Burritos and Refried Beans
Saturday: Door County for Dinner
Sunday: Chili Cook-Off & Dinner to TBA.... 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Red Wine Herb Marinara Sauce

Time for July's Improv Cooking Challenge! 

The theme for this month is tomatoes and herbs. Perfect for late August when my garden is overflowing with delicious fresh herbs. My tomatoes were ready yet, but I used a canned San Marazano to create a marinara sauce, but canned garden tomatoes would be amazing as well.

I knew I wanted to make a pasta sauce, but I wanted to give a a little twist with a generous amount of red wine and a nice long simmer on the stove top. I love marinara sauce and this was fantastic. I used this sauce to make a garden vegetable and sausage lasagna (recipe coming next week) and it was absolutely perfect.  My husband always wants meat with his pasta and loved this sauce as is. Kellen helped me stir the sauce and liked it so much he requested a small bowl and a spoon for his snack after waking up from his Saturday afternoon nap. 

This recipe makes about 2 jars of sauce (this might depend on how much it reduces as it simmers) and I like to freeze the remaining sauce to use for a quick weeknight meal for my family -spaghetti and meatballs or a pizza anyone?

Tonight, I am working on a few things around the house and would love to get out to the park to play. It has cooled down a bit (65 degrees), but it is suppose to get back to warmer temps this weekend and I am hoping to get to the waterside with Kellen because September is just around the corner and that means fall is coming! 

Is anyone planning on watching Fear the Walking Dead on Sunday? I am a big fan of The Walking Dead, and I am really excited about this spin off!  The previews remind me of 28 Days Later and I am hoping that it is a great show!

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 oats! 


3 Tbl olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 (28 oz) cans San Marazano whole peeled tomatoes
2 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh thyme
4 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbl chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh orgeano
1 1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar


Saute onions, garlic, carrots and pepper for 3 minutes on medium heat. 

Add herbs, tomatoes and red wine. Lightly simmer for 2 hours stirring every 15 minutes and breaking the tomatoes up with a spoon. 

Using and immersion blender blend the sauce till smooth (if you don't have one you can use a regular blender or opt for a chunkier sauce). Add with salt and sugar and cook for an additional 15 minutes. 

The sauce will keep for about a week, but can be frozen and used later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

S'Mores Poke Cake

Welcome to July's What's Baking!

The theme for this month was s'mores. I don't know about you, but nothing screams summer treats more to me than a s'more. At our cottage on Lake Michigan one of my favorite things to do it have a bonfire on a warm evening with crashing waves in the background. I love to toast s'mores and enjoy a cold beer while hanging out with my family. Once it gets really dark we like to look for different constellations in the sky.  As much as I love fall memories like this make me a little sad knowing September is around the corner! 

Deciding what to make was a little tricky because there are so many options. S'mores dip is raging all over Pinterest, but I saw a recipe for S'mores Poke Cake and I was sold. I love poke cakes and thought the cake sounded absolutely delicious. I loved the idea of using a graham cracker layer under the chocolate cake and a fluffy marshmallow icing to get in all the classic components of a s'more. 

I made this cake for my mom's birthday and my entire family loved it.  The flavors were great and reminded me of one of my favorite summer treats. This cake is also summer easy to make and Kellen loved helping me make the graham cracker layer and mixing the cake. 

Tonight, I have volleyball and we are playing with our full team tonight! We had a few people sick the last few weeks and I am looking forward to us killin' it tonight. 

Have a great day folks! 


2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 Tbl butter, melted
1 (15.25) oz boxed chocolate cake
1  (3.9) oz box instant chocolate pudding
2 cups milk
1 (8) oz container Cool Whip
1 (7) oz jar marshmallow cream
3 full size Hershey chocolate bars, chopped


Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9x13 glass baking pan.

Prepare the cake mix according to the box directions. Spoon the batter evenly on top of the graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to gently poke holes all over the top of the cake. 

Whisk together the pudding mix and milk until combined but not thickened. Pour over the top of the warm cake immediately. Use spatula to smooth and press the pudding into the holes. Try to keep the pudding in the center of the cake instead of the sides. Cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until chilled.

Stir together the Cool Whip and marshmallow cream. Spread over the cooled cake. Top with the chopped up candy bars. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Creamy Chicken Bacon Pesto Gnocchi Skillet

One-pot dishes are the best. Seriously. You can make this dish in less than 30 minutes and that is a lifesaver for my busy family- especially my pesto loving family. 

I have made a few one-pot dishes recently using gnocchi such as, Ham and Cheese Gnocchi Skillet and Bacon Cheeseburger Gnocchi Skillet. One flavor combo I was dying to try was chicken, bacon and pesto because it is one of my favorites and I knew it would make a fantastic dinner. 

To make an easy short cut for this recipe I like to get a rotisserie chicken or place a few breasts in my slowcooker with a little broth in the morning so it is ready to chop by dinner time. You could cook the chicken right before you make the dish if you have the extra time as well.  For cheese, I like to use Monterrey jack and a little Parmesan cheese, but I think throwing in a little feta might be a delicious twist. 

What was the verdict from my family? Well, we almost ate the entire pan if that tells you anything. Kellen loves gnocchi and with the addition of bacon Kellen (and Ron) were in heaven. 

The weather has cooled down today and foiled plans for swimming, but we are going to head to a park tonight with friends. I have a roast in the crockpot for an easy dinner when we return home.  Speaking of swimming, I signed Kellen and I up for a parent child swim class and am really looking forward to it. Kellen was previously doing a class with my mom and it has ended, and I am really looking forward to going with him.  We are taking the class with our friend and her son and I know we will have a lot of fun. Kellen really enjoys swimming and after this class he will be able to do the class without a parent (sniff). 


2 cups cooked chicken
1 lb gnocchi
8 oz heavy cream
2 1/2 cup chicken broth 
 1/2 cup pesto 
Salt and Pepper
7 chopped bacon, divided 
1 1/3 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese
2 Tbl Parmesan


In an oven safe skillet add, chicken, gnocchi, cream and broth. Simmer till sauce has thickened and reduced (about 8-12 minutes). 

Stir in pesto and 5 slices of chopped bacon. Cook an additional minute and season with salt and pepper, if desired. 

Top with cheese and broil. 

Remove from oven once cheese has slightly browned and top with remaining bacon.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 8/17 - 8/23

Happy Monday! 

I don't have any photos to share from the weekend because most of it was spent beach-side at our cottage! 

On Saturday, I headed up to our cottage with Kellen and Ron stayed back to work on some household things. We met my parents, sister, nephew and a few family friends for an awesome day on the beach. The water was crystal clear and perfect for swimming. Kellen had a blast and looked so cute with his little life jacket and tube as he floated in the water (he also loved splashing the adults).  After many hours in the water we headed in and ordered pizza for dinner (there is finally a pizza place that will deliver out to our place! Squee!).  The pizza was delicious and the kids crashed soon after and the adults, after a long day of swimming, were soon after. 

On Sunday, Kellen was up early and we headed out for breakfast for scrambled eggs and bacon with my mom and nephew. Once at home, everyone was up and we headed to the beach. The water was a bit choppy today and was  little too much for Kellen. Kellen opted to make sand castles on the beach with his grandma. Kellen's idea of building a sand castle is to make one and stomp on it before going to the other. Once you understand the game it really can be fun! After lunch we headed home and relaxed with Ron. I headed to out to shop for a few things for the house and to stop at my friend's to drop off Game of Thrones so they can start the obsession. Ron made BLTs for dinner with tomatoes from the garden and they were soooo delicious! 

This week is pretty easy and the weather is going to cool down a bit to the 70's. I was hoping to get to the pool, but it will have to wait till it warms up next week. 

Have a great week! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday:  One-Pot Creamy Stove Top Mac and Cheese, Kielbasa and Peas
Tuesday:  Italian Pork with Olives, Mashed Potatoes and Salad
Wednesday: Take-Out Subs
Thursday: Sour Cream Noodle Bake, Garlic Bread and Salad
Friday: BLTs, Corn and Watermelon
Saturday: Spicy Beef Chili
Sunday: Dinner with Leckers

Thursday, August 13, 2015

One-Pot BLT Tortellini Skillet

Tomato season is finally here. 

One of my favorite summer meals is a BLT. A ripe juicy tomato, crisp smokey bacon, fresh lettuce and creamy mayo on lightly toasted sourdough bread....drool drool drool.  However, I am not always in the mood for a sandwich and I decided that my favorite sandwich could become an amazing pasta.

As you know, I love one pot meals and this pasta is soooooo easy and makes a delicious dinner in less than 30 minutes.  I opted to use a cheese tortellini for my pasta, but  if you prefer other fillings I am sure that they would be delicious.  I like to use Nueske's smoked bacon when I cook. They are a Wisconsin company and make my favorite bacon ever.  I also used a little fresh spinach and cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market, and they helped create an amazing BLT inspired meal. 

Last night, I worked up a sweat playing volleyball and came home to dinner prepared by my sweet husband. Tonight, I am heading to dinner with a few girlfriends. My friend Angie lives in Seattle and is in town for the week and I am really excited to see her! We are headed to SALT for dinner and I am already excited after peeking at their updated menu! I am thinking about ordering the Notorious P.I.G. or the Dirty Bastard Nachos and a side salad.... now I am hungry..... 


20 oz cheese tortellini (from refrigerator section)
8 oz heavy cream
1 2/3 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 handful spinach
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
2 Tbl grated Romano or Parmesan
8 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
2/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes


Place pasta, cream, water and garlic powder into an oven safe skillet. Simmer 8-10 min until the liquid has reduced and thickened. 

Add spinach, cheese, 1/2 cup tomatoes and gently stir till cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper (remember you will add bacon at the end so careful with the salt). 

Top with remaining cheese and Romano.  Broil for 3-5 minutes. Watch the pasta carefully because it will burn easily and you want a nice light brown top. 

Remove from oven and top with remaining tomatoes and chopped bacon. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Slowcooker Rosemary Ranch Beef Roast

I love when I have something going in my slowcooker and can get dinner on the table quickly after a long day. I especially love it because it gives us more time to play and enjoy the summer weather! This recipe was one I put together on the fly for a quick dinner before going to the splash pads at the park. 

I served our roast with zucchini rice and purple & orange cauliflower. It was so delicious! The roast is very flavorful and it worked perfectly with the seasonal sides. 

Tonight, we are grabbing Thai for my Mom's birthday and heading to their house after for a little dessert. Kellen made my Mom a special birthday gift for her garden and is really excited to give it to her. 

In garden news, my tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers are doing great and so are my jalapenos are a little sluggish still! Hopefully I get a few more pop up soon because I want to make some salsa! 


2 Tbl chopped fresh rosemary 
2 dry ranch packets
3 1/2 lb chuck roast 
1 tsp pepper
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup water


Place roast in the slow cooker. Mix rosemary, ranch and pepper with the broth and water. Pour over roast. Cook on low for 8 hours. Roughly shred and serve. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 8/10 - 8/16

Happy Monday!

Last week flew by and I was a little MIA for blogging, but I was enjoying a little down time with my family. Ron and I celebrated our 4th anniversary on Thursday and grabbed dinner at our favorite place before heading home to enjoy a movie (kid free!). 

On Friday we headed up to Door County for a grill out with my family because my aunt and cousins were in town for a short visit.  The weather was overcast, but we had a lot of fun. 

On Saturday, we headed to Milwaukee for a wedding and Kellen stayed with my in-laws and attended a wedding with them. The wedding was at the Grain Exchange in downtown Milwaukee and the venue was so beautiful. The bride was an old friend of Ron's that I had never met and it was fun to meet some of his old friends! I think it is always interesting to meet people who knew Ron before I did and I get to heard lots fun stories and funny memories. We ended our trip to Milwaukee with a trip to Trader Joe's and headed home to relax for the remainder of the weekend. 

This week we are having my family for dinner to celebrate her birthday, I am having dinner with a few girlfriends and we are, hopefully, getting to Door County to swim for a bit over the weekend. 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday:  Grilled Teriyaki Chicken, Rice and Grilled Veggies & Pineapple
Tuesday: Birthday Dinner for My Mom.... unsure of the menu!
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Dinner with Girlfriends
Friday: Grilled Lemon Pepper Pork Chops, Wild Rice and Green Beans
Saturday: Door County
Sunday:  Tater Tot Casserole and Green Beans

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Slow Cooker Potato, Brat, Corn and Cheddar Casserole

Time for August Secret Recipe Club reveal day!

This month I received the blog Famished Fish. Saundra's blog is filled with lots of family friendly recipes and it was very hard to select one! While reading Suandra's "about me" section I learned that she is a mother to four children and her middle child is autistic. She shares many recipes on her blog that are geared towards his dietary needs and tastes, but can be (and are) enjoyed by her entire family. In addition, she also works full time and, like me, has to multitask when home to make sure that everyone is fed and time is spent enjoying a little family time together.  There were a few recipes I had my eye on:  Mac N Cheese Boats, Crab and Shrimp Burger, and Potato, Brat, Corn and Cheddar Casserole.  Ultimately, the casserole won me over because I am a Wisconsin girl and can't pass up a brat.  I was really excited to find a new slow cooker recipe that I knew my entire family would adore (it is great not to turn on the oven on hot summer days!). The verdict? My boys and I loved it and it reheated great for leftovers the following day.  Thanks for a fantastic new recipe!

This weekend was a lot of fun and I will recap it more in my meal plan post tomorrow.  I am headed back to work tomorrow after a few days off and the time went by way to fast! I have that time off always seems to do that and I keep wishing I had more time to enjoy the summer outside of work! However, I am excited about spending another day at the beach in Door County soon and that makes the work week a little faster!


8 medium-large russet potatoes
2 medium white onions
1 15 oz can corn, drained
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 26 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1 pack brats (We use Johnsonville and 5 are in a pack), sliced


Slice the potatoes and onions thinly to 1/2 inch thickness.

Layer 1/3 of the potatoes and onions in the bottom your slow cooker.  Layer 1/3 of the corn and 1/3 of the sliced brats over the potatoes and onions.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the corn and brats, and top with 1/3 of the mushroom soup.

Repeat the layers two more times and cover with the lid. Cook on low for 8 hours. Set heat to warm and remove lid to thicken for 20 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 8/3 - 8/9

Man am I running late this week! Welcome to meal plan......Wednesday? 

This past weekend was busy and fun, and I am off this week and we have been on the go! 

This past weekend we were on Door County because a few friends were up camping. We hung around the cottage, went cherry picking, had a delicious brunch and enjoyed a bonfire with s'mores. We also made a trip to the Door County fair for rides, games and food! 

Cherry picking!

Kellen has been begging for a ride on the Ferris Wheel all summer and finally got his wish. He absolutely loved it! 

Kellen also tried to catch a prize at one the (expensive) games and won a stuffed shark!

S'mores and a fire on the beach in PJs are a perfect way to end the day. 

Sunday there was a hail storm and my Dad found creative ways to protect the cars. 

On Monday, we headed to Feast with the Beasts at the local zoo. It is one of my favorite things every year and the food was fantastic as usual. My favorite dish was tie between salmon cakes with jalapeno aoli and pheasant chili. In the end my vote went to the pheasant chili- so delicious! 

On Tuesday, we were up early and piled into the car with my sister and nephew to head to Chicago to go to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum.  The aquarium was so neat and Kellen loved the shark area. 

However, when I let him pick out a favorite animal in the gift shop he went right for the Beluga Whale. The Whales were rubbing against the glass as they swam by us in their exhibit and the kids loved it!

Out last stop was to see Sue at the Field Museum. I visited years ago and it was neat to see it again. Kellen was thrilled to see a real dino and insisted that he had a photo with Sue. We also stopped to see the Lions of Tsavo. 

Our ride home was uneventful and we crashed after we walked in the door. Kellen slept till 9:00 the following morning and I had to wake him for swim class! Kellen normally goes to class with my mom, but since I am on vacation I tagged along to watch the class. It was so fun to see how confident he is getting in the water!  In the evening we met our friends at the park and even the big kids had fun!

Tonight, I have volleyball and will look forward to climbing into bed after the game! I am beat!

This week I am enjoying time off, meeting friends for lunch and celebrating my anniversary with Ron tomorrow night while Kellen has a night with his grandparents. 

Have a great week everyone! 

Here is what was/is on tap:

Monday: Feast with the Beasts at the NEW Zoo
Tuesday: Chicago with my Sister to the Shed Aquarium with kiddos
Wednesday: Summer Vegetable Lasagna with Italian Sausage 
Thursday: Out to Plae Bistro for Anniversary
Friday: Grill out with our family- I am bringing a cucumber caprese salad 
SaturdayWedding in Milwaukee
Sunday: Brunch at Wolf Peach/ T-Blat Wraps for Dinner