Sunday, November 29, 2015

Chocolate Toffee Cookies #SecretRecipeClub

Secret Recipe Club is cooking up an amazing theme for the holidays- Holiday Treats!


I received the blog Amy's Cooking Adventures and I really lucked out! Amy has a wonderful arsenal of different recipes for cookies, brownies, cakes and even frosting! Amy is a busy wife and mom and, like myself, learned to love cooking as an adult and newlywed/new mom. I love her families philosophy that take-out is always and option because taking risks in the kitchen is fun and results in delicious results. I had about  10 recipes bookmarked, but ended up picking between: Chocolate Candy Cane Blossoms, Chocolate Toffee Cookie, Ultimint Christmas Candy Cookies, Thin Mint Pie, Candy Cane Cupcakes and Peppermint Patties. Ultimately, I decided to make the Chocolate Toffee Cookies because my husband absolutely loves toffee bars and I knew he would adore these cookies. The cookies are very easy to put together and even give a baking break while you wait for the dough to chill!

So how did my brood like the holiday treats? They loved them! I had little doubt that these would be a success because of my hubby's love of chocolate and toffee, but it is always nice to get that reassurance that you made a tasty treat that your family loves. I only made a few adjustments to the recipe by reducing the amount of nuts and microwaving the chocolate to melt versus using a double boiler.

Holiday treats are something my family looks forward to every year. I love to make different candies and cookies to share with family and friends. These cookies are a fantastic addition to my holiday spread and certainly help me get into the holiday spirit. We have our tree up and are starting some of our favorite holiday traditions- to say we are excited for the 2015 holiday season is an understatement!

Thank you Amy for a delicious new recipe!



Ingredients

½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 regular sized chocolate covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Sea salt (optional)


Instructions

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Microwave the chocolate in a glass bowl stirring at 15 second intervals till completely melted. Stir in the butter, stirring constantly until very smooth.  Set the bowl aside and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, beat the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer until it becomes thick, about 3-5 minutes.

Beat in the chocolate mixture and the vanilla.  Add in the flour mixture.

Using a spoon, stir in the toffee and the nuts.  Cover the bowl and chill until firm, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a two tablespoon cookie scoop, drop the cookie batter onto the sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sea salt (if using).

Bake until the tops are cracked but the cookies are still soft to the touch, 12-15 minutes.

Makes about 40 cookies


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftover Round-Up

I know that Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet, but it is a great time to collect a few recipes to use all of the Thanksgiving leftovers. My family loves cold turkey sandwiches, but I can't stand them (cold meat-blah!) and always am on the look out for new recipes to use the delicious holiday leftovers. I have picked a few of my favorites and reader favorites to share with you.  Some use chicken, but turkey can easily be substituted. I usually have some leftover pumpkin and always make the error of grabbing an extra sweet potato that I didn't need so I included a few recipes for those leftovers as well. 

I am so excited for tomorrow. My Dad and I are doing the cooking and we will have a lot of family in town. We are planning the following for our menu:

Simple Roasted Turkey and Gravy
Mushroom, Onion and White Wine Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Vanilla Maple Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping
Orange Scented Cranberries
Homemade Green Bean Casserole
Homemade 3 Cheese Mac and Cheese
Red Wine Mushrooms
Cheese Beans (a tradition for Ron's family!)
Superfood Green Salad (Thank you Costco!) 
Rolls
Pecan Pie, Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie

I am already drooling. I am responsible for making everything but the turkey, stuffing, salad, rolls and pies....I have my work cut out for me and the prep will start tonight!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and here is the round-up:

Appetizers

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Dip


Buffalo Chicken Dip

Crockpot Cabernet Blackberry Turkey Meatballs

Sweet Potato Coins with Blue Cheese 

Sweet 'n' Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Mains

Turkey Herb Dumpling Soup

Thai Chicken Curry and Butternut Squash Soup

Chicken Bacon Ranch Tot Casserole

Chicken Saltimbocca Spaghetti

Weeknight White Chicken Chili

Chicken Curry Soup

White Chicken Enchiladas

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Baked Pumpkin Goat Cheese Alfredo with Bacon


Sides

Sweet and Salty Arugula Salad

Potatoes Romanoff 


Dessert

Velvet Pumpkin Bread

Harvest Pumpkin Ale Bread

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 11/23 - 11/29

Happy Thanksgiving week! One thing I am certainly thankful for is the short week and a long weekend ahead filled with lots of delicious food and fun with family. 

This weekend was a lot of fun! I went to a painting and wine (water for me!) evening with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law at a studio where my sister-in-law has her personal training space. We painted a few festive pumpkins and a pumpkin spice latte. It was so much fun and I really enjoyed the how casual it was, but how many tips and tricks we learned. I really enjoy painting and have take a few classes in the past and I can't wait to try another one of these workshops! 

My finished product:


On Saturday morning we bundled up because it was under 30 degrees in Green Bay and we were headed to the Holiday Parade! Kellen absolutely loved it, but we all got a bit chilly by the end of the parade and needed to sip hot chocolate. Kellen was ready to throw in the towel and go home until Santa turned the corner! He was so excited he needed to do a two handed wave and was thrilled when Santa waved back! I have a feeling that this Holiday is going to be a lot of fun! 


After the parade we went out for lunch before heading home to relax for the rest of the day. I met up with my sister and her boyfriend to go see the new Hunger Games movie later in the evening. I really enjoyed it!

On Sunday, Kellen and I ran to the store before heading to my parents in the late afternoon for the Packer game. I made a crockpot apple crisp and someone was pretty excited for it to be done from the moment I put the lid on the crockpot!  


We were all so excited about the Packer victory and am hoping we can keep it up on Thursday! 

This week I am looking forward the Turkey Day. My family from Chicago will be in town and Ron's parents will also be coming to celebrate with us and I am so excited. A few of my cousins are going to the game to see the Packers and Brett Favre. It should be a pretty awesome night!  We are also planning to go the the Festival of Lights on Friday, Ron's family is coming for dinner on Saturday and we are putting up our tree on Sunday! It is going to be a fun weekend! 

I hope you all have an amazing week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday:  One-Pot Chili Mac and Salad
Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan, Pasta and Salad
Wednesday: Out to Dinner
Thursday: Thanksgiving! Roasted Turkey and Gravy, Mushroom White Wine Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, Mac and Cheese, Salad, Rolls, Red Wine Mushrooms and lots of different Pies!
Friday: Leftovers or Out
Saturday: Ron's Family are coming over for Dinner- Deviled Eggs, Seasoned Mushrooms, Relish Tray, Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, Green Beans, Salad and Apple Crisp with Ice Cream for dessert
Sunday:  Lasagna Soup, Garlic Bread and Salad

Pumpkin Pasilla Bread + A PRIMO Giveaway

Earlier this year I shared a few recipes from PRiMO Specialty Foods and shared how much I love their product. Well, Primo sent me a new flavor to try, Berry Pasilla, and I knew I needed to make a delicious fall recipe to share with you to show-off the tasty ways to use their preserves. 

The Berry Pasilla preserve is a very unique and tasty flavor. The berry flavor is very bright, but the pasilla pepper flavor reminds me of raisin with a little sweet smoky flavor of cocoa. The pepper is traditionally used in mole sauce, but I wanted to try something different and something I could share with my friend and family over the holiday. 

I opted to make a pumpkin bread with the preserves because I thought that the flavors would be amazing together and I love that pumpkin can naturally carry spice and not be overwhelmed by it.  My bread was delicious and I loved the flavors from the preserves coming through the bread with a hint of spice from the peppers- so yummy! 

PRiMO Specialty Foods is so generous and wants to share some of their amazing preserves not only with me, but with all of you. They have an amazing holiday gift pack with four amazing preserves: Berry Pasilla, Raspberry Habanero, Holiday Pumpkin Spread, and Spiced Cherry. Look at those beautiful jars- I love their retro style packaging!



These preserves would make a lovely gift or are perfect if you have company coming and are laying out a light breakfast for your guests.  I can't wait to share them with my family this weekend because we always make homemade scones and I know my family will enjoy trying the different flavors. Thank you PRiMO for your lovely preserves! Please enter using the Rafflecopter below- giveaway will run till Saturday at midnight!


Ingredeints

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup Berry Pasilla Preserves
2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin 


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9″x5″ loaf pan with non-stick baking spray.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and set aside.  In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer, but hand mixer will work fine) combine oil, applesauce, preserves and sugar. Mix till smooth. Slowly mix in the flour mixture. Add the eggs and pumpkin.  Pour batter into the  prepared pan and bake for 1 hour.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 20, 2015

Szechuan Green Beans and Ground Pork

Oh my goodness....it is finally Friday! I am having an exhausted week and am happy for a little break over the next few days. Plus Thanksgiving is on the horizon and my cousins are coming for Chicago for the holiday and I can't wait to see them!

Since it is the end of the week I am going to celebrate with a wonderful weeknight friendly dinner. This recipe come from CookingLight and is fantastic. I loved how easy it was to put together and how packed it is with fresh green beans. Kellen loves when I prepare a stir fry because he waits by the counter and takes the fresh veggies off the cutting board every time I turn around. I pretend not to notice and he loves it- who would yell at a child for eating fresh green beans?! Nobody in this house- that's for sure! The only adjustment I made to the dish was to use just shy of a pound of ground pork so it would make a little extra leftovers for lunches. I didn't increase the sauce and didn't feel that it was under-sauced, but if you like extra and are using more meat I would adjust accordingly. 

This meal was delicious and so easy to put together- I think dinner was on the table in less than 20 minutes. I opted to serve our stir fry over hot rice, but noodles would also be yummy. Easy dinners make me a happy mom- there are fewer things better than that! 

Tonight, I am going to a paint/wine class with my sister in law and mother in law. It should be a lot of fun. I have not been to one before, but have seen a lot of my friends posting about them on Facebook and thought it looked fun! The theme appears to be pumpkin spice latte and I am curious to know how everything works and excited to paint. I really enjoy painting and use to do a lot more of it when I was in high school and a bit in college. It always is like riding a bike when I get to do it and I remember how much fun it is. 

Hope everyone has  good week and an even better weekend! I am looking forward to bringing Kellen to his first Holiday Parade tomorrow morning and we have been told that we will have a blanket of white on Saturday morning- is it really that time of year already!?


Ingredients

1/2-1 lb lean ground pork
1 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp peanut oil
2 1/2 cups (1-inch) cut fresh green beans 
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 Tbl hoisin sauce
1 tsp sugar 
1/2 -1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce


Instructions

Combine pork, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, beans, and garlic; cook until pork loses its pink color and will easily crumble.

Whisk together hoisin sugar, red pepper and soy in a bowl. Pour hoisin mixture to the pan with the pork and green beans. Cook 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Serve over rice or noodles.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 11/16 - 11/22

Happy Monday! 

This weekend was filled with fun and surprises! 

On Friday, we relaxed at home and ordered pizza. After Kellen went to bed, Ron and I watched a few shows and got ready for our party the following day. 

On Saturday, Ron had to work from 8 am - 2 pm and I got ready for out party to reveal if our Baby is a he or a she. Lucky for me my friend Kayla had Kellen over for to play while I ran a few errands. We had decided on a taco bar and I stopped at Target for a few last minute decorations. My last stop before grabbing Kellen was to pick up our fabulous rainbow cake with the secret locked behind all the frosting.  I picked up Kellen and headed home for lunch and nap (for him). 

My menu for the taco bar was:
-Taco Beef, Taco Ranch slow cooked chicken
-Fixin's- shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, slices black olives, onions, cheese, sour cream, warm queso cheese in the slowcooker, jalapenos and homemade salsa. 
-Hardshell, softshell and tortilla chips
Appetizers: Seasoned mushrooms, pickle wrap dip and taco dip from my friend Kayla 

The party was a lot of fun and food was delicious! If you saw my previous post you know that we are welcoming a brand new little boy to our house late March/early April next year!



After the party, Ron and I relaxed and put Kellen down.....we get wore out easily these days! 

On Sunday, I did a little shopping and we relaxed at home before heading to my parents for the Packer game. The game was horrible and actually rather boring until the last 30 seconds.....however, that didn't seem to matter....sigh.... 

After the game  we headed home and ate leftover tacos with my friend Emily and watched Wednesday's Law and Order.  However, Kellen got sick in the middle of dinner and threw up all over. In typical toddler fashion he told me he felt great, started jumping and played for the rest of the night..... toddlers are confusing.... Being pregnant and have a couch that now has a slight vomit smell to it might not be a good combination for us.

This week we have a low key week and are hoping to get to the Holiday parade this weekend! I am also trying one of those wine (not for me) and canvas classes with my family as well!

Have a great week everyone- look for a fun giveaway coming up this week! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Slowcooked Beef and Noodles and Peas
Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing with Roasted Cauliflower
Wednesday: Out after Swim
Thursday: Dinner with a Girlfriend- Ron and Kellen will have Bacon Pierogie Bake and Salad
Friday: Subs for Kellen and Ron...I will grab something on the run before the painting class
Saturday: Beef and Vegetable Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuits
Sunday: Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach, Rice and Salad

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It's a................................

Yesterday we found out if our newest addition is a he or a she and we are sooooo excited!

Are you ready to find out too?????????






Drumroll please!!!!!!!!!!






It's a Boy! 

Kellen is going to have a little brother and we are going to welcome another sweet little man to the family late March/Early April next year! 


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pickle Wrap Dip #NationalPickleDay

Do you know what day it is???

Maybe the best day of the year...... National Pickle Day! 

As you know,  I absolutely love pickles and extra pickles is always the first thing out of my mouth when ordering a sub, burger or (my favorite) Cuban sandwich. 

I received a few coupons to try Oh Snap! Pickling Company's pickles (a Wisconsin brand too!) and share a pickle loving post for National Pickle Day because not celebrating pickles just seems wrong! Oh Snap! offers individually wrapped pickles in  four different varieties: Gone Dilly, HotTie, Dilly Bites and HotTie Bites.  The pickles are different than the average individually wrapped pickle because they are not packed in brine and the result is a crunchy, fresh and flavorful pickle! 

Oh Snap! is having fun and celebrating National Pickle Day with a a chance to win $100 and Oh Snap! products. To enter this fun contest you need to do the following: 
2) Find the Oh Snap! pickle in the photo on Facebook and enter their name, email and pickle location on the form found at this link: http://ohsnappickles.com/pickle-day/

With the coupons I received for my Oh Snap! pickles I decided to make a version of one of my favorite throwback appetizers- Pickle Wrap Dip. I love pickles wraps, but they can be a pain to make, but this dip is a fantastic short cut. I also use a food processor to chop and that makes the prep time literally under 5 minutes. I used Oh Snap! Dilly Bites to make this dip and really was happy with how crunchy they were so they could stand next to the ham and cream cheese as a crunchy component to my dip. I don't think I will make making pickle wraps anytime soon when I can make a shortcut version like this that is just as packed with my favorite flavors.  When I was pregnant with Kellen I adored pickle wraps (Kellen absolutely loved the Dilly Bites for snacking!) and this baby seems to enjoy pickle wrap flavors just as much. I will be serving this dip tonight at our party to find out if Baby L. is a he or a she..... or maybe a pickle based on how often I like to eat them! 

Thank you Oh Snap! Pickling Company for introducing me to your product, and please visit their page and enter the contest! You can also visit Oh Snap! Pickling Company on Twitter and Instagram


Ingredients

1/2 lb cooked sliced ham 
3/4 cup sliced Dilly Bites (or sliced dill pickle of choice)
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature


Instructions

In a food processor, chop the pickles and ham until they are in small pieces. If you do not have a food processor you can do  this by hand. 

Remove ham and pickle from food processor and scrape into a mixing bowl. Gently stir in the cream cheese until evenly mixed. 

Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve with cracker and veggies to dip. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Beef' 'n' Broccoli Stir Fry

Pregnancy is a funny thing especially with food choices. When I was pregnant with Kellen you couldn't get me near anything with soy sauce for a solid 9 months and about 6 months after. However, with this little one I really like soy sauce (I don't out it all over things) and have really been enjoying trying different stir frys. Jaida  is on a cooking board with me and author of Sweet Beginnings posted this awhile ago and I thought it sounded fantastic. I really liked that she opted to use broccoli slaw and broccoli florets in her version- yum! The only small change I made was using a trimmed sirloin steak because it was what I had on hand. I also did not slice the steak before I seared it. 

This meal is so easy to put together and perfect for a weeknight. Kellen really enjoyed with meal. He loved the little bites of steak and especially liked the broccoli slaw with rice in the sweet and spicy sauce. He didn't seem to interested in the large pieces of broccoli,  but sometimes it seems he prefers for veggies raw over cooked- just like his Dad. 

Since making this, I have recommended it to several other working mom friends who tried it and came back with happy results from their families. 

Today is the chili cook-off at my work and I am entering my favorite chili recipe. I won last year and let's hope the streak continues. Ron has a chili cook-off at his work next Tuesday and is going to follow our favorite recipe as well when he makes it. Tonight we are going to be laying low and getting ready for a little party tomorrow to find out if out little one is a boy or a girl! I am so excited! 

Have a great weekend everyone!


Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb sirloin steak
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp sherry
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce, or to taste
½ cup beef broth 
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cups of broccoli slaw 


Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the steak until it starts to brown, about 2-3 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the steak. 

While steak cooks, Meanwhile, whisk together the soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic, sherry, honey, ginger, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, Sriracha sauce and beef broth in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

Remove steak from the pan and rest for about 3 minutes. Trim the fat and slice thin against the grain. Return steak to the pan and turn heat to medium.

Add the sauce to the steak and it will start to thicken immediately. Add broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally and keeping coated with sauce. Add in the broccoli slaw and cook for another 2 minutes, until broccoli and slaw are tender and sauce is thickened.

Serve over  rice or noodles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Crispy Parmesan Chicken Chicken Over Creamy Orecchiette with Spinach

Oh my goodness you guys.....this meal.... so delicious! 

I do not make crispy chicken very often, but when I do I am always reminded how delicious it is!  I like to do a basic breaded chicken with seasoned flour, an egg wash and seasoned bread crumbs. This time I opted to add a little Parmesan and it was amazing. The chicken was so juicy and full of flavor- we wished our stomachs were bigger to eat a few more bites! I paired the chicken with a simple creamy one pot Orecchiette pasta and spinach. The pasta was super simple and easy to put together along side the chicken. I love Orecchiette pasta, but can't always find it in my area so I make sure to stock up at Trader Joe's when I visit Milwaukee. Orecchiette gets its name from it shape- just like a little ear and is great is creamy sauces. I can't wait to make this meal again! 

In other news, today it our anatomy scan untrasound! I am really excited, but always a little nervous too. With Kellen, I loved seeing all the photos of baby and remember thinking the spine shot looked just like a sardine! We are doing a party to reveal the baby's sex on Saturday with our family- it will feel so long till the! However, it will be worth the wait.  I am planning a fun little spread of food and of course there will be cake to reveal the surprise! 

Have a great day everyone!


Ingredients

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
One egg (+ 1 Tbl Water), Beaten
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp black pepper 
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbl grated Parmesan
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 lb Orecchiette pasta 
2 1/2 cup roughly chopped spinach 
2/3 cup heavy cream 
1/3 cup milk
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste


Instructions

In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta according to package instructions.

While the pasta cooks set up a station to bread the chicken. One flat dish with flour, pepper, garlic powder and 1/2 tsp salt, one bowl with egg beaten with water and one flat dish with breadcrumbs, 1 tsp salt and Parmesan cheese. Dredge the chicken breast in flour, dip in eggs and coat in the panko making sure to press the breadcrumbs into the chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Heat oil in a large rimmed skillet over medium-high heat (you do not want the oil too hot or it will burn the coating). Once oil is hot place chicken gently in the skillet. Cook 4-5 minutes per side. The chicken should be golden brown and breading firm and crunchy. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate when completely cooked. 

While chicken is cooking, drain the cooked pasta from the water and add it back to the pot.  While keeping an eye on the chicken, return pasta to stove over medium-low heat and add milk, cream, cheese and spinach. The sauce will thicken and spinach will wilt. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. 

To plate, scoop warm pasta on to plates and top with the chicken breasts. I like to slice my chicken because it makes it a little easier to eat. Serve immediately. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 11/9 - 11/15

Happy Monday! 

This weekend was lots of fun, but chilly!!!!

On Friday, we headed to dinner with a friend from out of town. We had steaks, salads and delicious sauteed mushrooms! In addition, to all the good food the conversation and company was, as always, wonderful. 

On Saturday, we headed to Appleton to pick up our nephew and have a special day with him as part of his birthday present. Our plan was the Packer Hall of Fame, 1919 at Lambeau Field for lunch and the NEW Zoo. The day was pretty chilly, but it was a lot of fun. 

When we got to Lambeau Field it happened to be the same day as the Parade of Shops.... sooooo it was a little busier than we thought, but thankfully the Hall of Fame was not crowded and the boys loved it.  

Kellen even had a chance to "meet" Clay Matthews:


For lunch we stopped and 1919, a restaurant in the stadium. I had eaten at the former restaurant in Lambeau called Curly's, but had not had a chance to try 1919.  I was really happy with my meal, a turkey club with peppered bacon, but I loved Kellen's pepperoni flatbread- luckily my little guy doesn't mind sharing. We also shared Parmesan crusted cheese curds and deviled eggs with poblano and bacon. So delicious.  After lunch we headed to the zoo. We all had a lot of fun and the boys loved riding in our wagon together and giggling.  The only mishap was a stumble by Kellen that resulted in a scraped on his little nose! Poor buddy! 

Feeding the Giraffe:


Meeting the Lions!: 


After our adventures, we headed to Appleton to drop off our nephew and Kellen crashed for a long nap.  In the evening, we had subs for dinner and vegged out for the night. 

On Sunday, Kellen and I headed to the store for a little shopping before heading home to get some thing s done before the Packer game.  Later in the evening, my Mom stopped for a spaghetti dinner and we relaxed and finished up some laundry. Perfect and lazy Sunday....besides the Packer loss. 

This week is really excited because we are finding out the sex of our baby! We go to our appointment tomorrow, but will not actually know till Saturday when we have a little get together with our families. A friend of mine is making a cake- check out her Facebook page! She makes all the cakes for Kellen's parties and they are amazing...I think I am as excited to find out the sex as I am to eat cake. 

Have a good week everyone and here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Ron's Sloppy Joe's and Greek Salad
Tuesday: Szechuan Green Beans and Ground Pork and Egg Rolls
Wednesday: Out
Thursday: Simple Taco Soup
Friday: Fish Fry! Blue Gill, Old Bay Wedges and Rye Bread
Saturday: Family Party. Taco Bar: Beef & Chicken w/ all the fixin's, Chips, Salsa, Guac, Queso, Beans, Rice and Margaritas
Sunday: Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing and Salad

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Meatball and Rice One-Pot #SecretRecipeClub

Time for November's Secret Recipe Club!


This month I received Maxine's blog, Why I Am Not Skinny (isn't that a fantastic name). Maxine is from South Africa and lives in Brussels.  I was excited to check out her blog because she has a wonderful variety of different recipes! A few of the recipes I was eyeing up were the Indian Rice Salad with ChickenGorgonzola & Leek TartletsCauliflower & Stilton Soup and Lime & Beer Cake. In addition to all of Maxine's recipes she has a large variety (almost 200) restaurant reviews from Europe and South Africa and, while me may live in different parts of the world, I always enjoy reading reviews from different types restaurants! 

When selecting a recipe I was looking for something  that my little man would like and is weeknight friendly.  I came across Maxine's Meatball and Rice One-Pot and knew it was perfect for my family. I had to adjust the ingredients to reflect the U.S. standard measuring system. I also used a ground pork sausage from our butcher and not links and it allowed me to skip the step of striping off the casings. This meal is lovely and the flavors are delicious. As Maxine noted, the rice absorbed a lot of the liquid. This photo was take the following day and much was absorbed. When we had our initial meal there was a little more liquid in the rice, but it was equally delicious.  I love the flavors or coriander and cumin, but it is not a flavor commonly paired in my area with tomato sauce and meatballs. However, my entire family loved this and Kellen cleaned his plate- anyone with a toddler knows that is a total win! 

Today we watched the Packer game....sigh.... The first half was sooooo disappointing. However, they started to pick it up later in the game, but there wasn't enough time to pick up what the first half lost. Next week it will be better- I know it! My mom also stopped for dinner tonight for spaghetti and play time with Kellen. Today was a wonderfully lazy day and I actually feel like I got a few things accomplished! 

Thank you Maxine for a lovely meal my entire family loved!


Ingredients

1 lb ground pork sausage 
1 Tbl olive oil
1/2 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 cup rice
3 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Instructions

Roll sausage into small sized meatballs. In a medium dutch oven, brown the meatballs until cooked. Remove from the dutch oven and place on a paper towel lined plate.

Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook over medium-low till onions begin to soften. Add the rice, cumin and coriander. Cook, stirring, for an additional minute. 

Add the stock and crushed tomatoes and stir. Simmer on medium-low for 15-20 minutes; stirring often. 

Add the meatballs, stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes. 

Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Scoop into plates and top with chopped cilantro. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Slow Cooker Beef and Ale Stew

Wisconsin has weird weather.  It was almost 70 this week and not it is 40 degrees- welcome to fall in Wisconsin.....

When it is cold and drizzly I start to crave stews and soups. I love beef stew, but there is never enough time for me to prepare it during the week unless I use my slow cooker.  I filled my stew with big chunks of potatoes, carrots and stew meat. I like to use pearl onion over chunks of onions, but either will work just fine. I also opt to make a slurry to thicken my stew over tossing the beef in flour. I have used both methods and like how this one thickens a little better but, again, either way will work. 

My family and I loved this stew and gobbled it down with some nice crusty bread on the side for dipping. Kellen favorite part was the carrots and onions- kid loves his veggies. 

Last night, I had dinner with my girlfriends Kayla and Emily at Nicky's- it was delicious and so nice for us moms to get out of the house! Emily came over a little SVU watching as well. 

Tonight,  we are headed out for dinner with my parents and a friend from out of town. We are going to the Union Hotel and I am really excited because they have delicious steak and amazing saute mushrooms....yum. This weekend we are also have taking our nephew for a fun day as his birthday gift. Kellen is really excited and it should be a really fun day. 

Next week we find out the sex of little Baby L! I can't believe that I am half way into this pregnancy. I figured it would fly by, but it is going to fast! We are actually finding out on Tuesday, but will not know until next Saturday when we find out with our family. 

Have a fun weekend everyone!



Instructions

1 1/2 lb beef stew meat
2 cups chopped carrots
1.1/2 cup frozen pearl onions 
3 cup quartered Russet potatoes 
2 Tbl soy sauce 
12 oz ale
4 cups beef stock
4 spring of fresh thyme 
1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup water
Salt and Pepper


Instructions

Season stew meat with salt and pepper. Brown in a skillet to get a nice crust on the meat. While the meat cooks, whisk together soy sauce, ale and stock. Place the meat. carrots, onions and potatoes in to a slow cooker and pour liquid over the top. Top with sprigs of thyme. 

Cooker 8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. 

In the last 30 minutes of cooking turn the slow cooker to high (or leave it on high if cooking at that temp), make a slurry with the flour and water. Pour into the stew and stir. Place the cover over the slow cooker and allow to cook the remaining 30 minutes and thicken. 

Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 11/2- 11/8 & A Special Announcement!

Good evening! 

I am watching the Packer game as I type this and hope that our game turns around a little more.....this is killing me! 

This weekend was so much fun and Halloween was a blast (as usual).  On Friday, I met my parents for dinner. Ron didn't join us because he was working second shift all week. I tried to wait up for him, but fell asleep watching Halloween and woke up right when Michael Myers is breaking into the close. That wakes a person up quickly! 

On Saturday, I headed to the store early to grab stuff for chili and to get some of the bigger stuff out of the way because I planned to take Kellen to the trick-or-treat at the grocery store. I like going because they have lots of goodies from the bakery, fresh fruit and milk & cookies. Kellen loves it! We had to make a quick run to the car because it was a very wet Halloween morning!  Kellen had an early nap, I worked on our chili and Ron got his Minion costume ready!  We go to my parent's house for trick-or-treat and it was lot of fun. We made mummy dogs while we waited for the rain to stop and once it ended it was a really nice evening and the kids hauled in lots of candy! 

Motion shot!


Trick-or-Treat!


The haul!


The following morning Ron had to work at 6 am and Kellen was up at 4:30 AM....damn you daylight savings time...you saved me from sleeping...thank you....

Since we were up early, Kellen and I headed out for breakfast and to meet our friends at the Wildlife Sanctuary for some much needed free play time. 

Leading the pack!


Since is was pretty empty the deer came up to the kids and they got to feed them! 


After the sanctuary, we came home for naps and relaxation. I was going to do laundry, but opted to veg instead. For dinner, Ron, Kellen and I went out for chicken. The place we went had a little game room and there was a grab machine for little prizes. Kellen won a finger trap and was so confused by it when  I put it on his thumbs. When he couldn't get it off he turned into the hulk and ripped it apart. I think Ron and I almost fell off our chairs. His face turned all read and his teeth were gritted..... after he shredded it he calmly set it aside to go play more.... seriously.... so hysterical.  We got home in time for the game and put Kellen down so we could watch the game.... which is not going great right now.... Hopefully, when most of you read this the Packer will have turned it around...

Some of you who are Facebook friends with me already know, but we have a fun little announcement to share with all of you! 



We are expecting another little one late March/Early April!!!!

My exact due date is 3/29/2016, but I don't put too much stock into exact dates after my Kellen was 2 1/2 weeks "overdue" (he still takes his sweet time).  We are so excited about this little one and waited a little longer to announce it after having two losses earlier this year in January and April. I am finally at a point that I am feeling really good and confident- you might have noticed that my posts did a bit of a drop....thank you first trimester morning sickness. However, morning sickness was a blessing and a curse for me. I felt like crap, but it actually gave me comfort that levels were rising and baby was getting what it needed from my body. We are finding out the sex of Baby in just over a week at the 20 week anatomy scan, and I will do a fun reveal for all of you. Many people have said that they hope we have a girl (probably because we have a boy), but our focus it just healthy and happy after the way the year started. I honestly would be so happy about either sex for totally different reasons. However, this time we are going to find out with our family and not know before like last time- I think it is going to be really fun! 

I am just so excited that I couldn't wait any longer to share with all of you!

More on baby and life later.... time to watch the game!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Meatball and Rice One-Pot and Green Beans
Tuesday: Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry and Eggs Rolls
Wednesday: Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks and Bacon and Salad
Thursday: Out with my Girlfriends and Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing  for the Boys
Friday: Out for Dinner
Saturday: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce and Garlic Bread
Sunday: Some Type of Pan Roasted Fish, Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli