Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Favorite Recipe (My List)

Oh 2015...... What can I say about you.....

I think I can describe 2015 as being full of hills and valleys, ups and downs, many happy moments and a few sad. This year started really positive, but the first few months were very testing for me. I had two miscarriages in 3 months and it was an intense start to 2015 to say the least. It forced me to grow personally, and as a spouse and mom. Overtime, I really feel that I am a better person because it was a challenge to me and my family, but we have peace with everything. However, there were happy times in the first few months of  2015 too! I got to spend lots of time with my family and friends, Kellen continued to grow into a lovely little guy, one of my best friends was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly, my family went on a trip to the Wisconsin Dells for my birthday, Kellen's first movie at the theater (Little Mermaid!), another one of my best friends had a beautiful healthy baby girl, volleyball, birthday parties with friends, a brand new car, the Belly to Baby Expo and a wonderful trip to Florida.  We found out I was pregnant in July shortly after Ron's cousin's wedding and we were so excited, but very nervous. I think it took me forever to talk about this little boy not  because I wasn't thrilled, but I was nervous about something happening to him to take him away from me and by saying nothing it didn't have to be real until I was ready. Thankfully, we have been very blessed and this pregnancy has been going smoothly.  We spent a lot of the summer is Door County with friend and family, planted a garden, enjoyed birthdays and weddings, Birth Without Fear Conference in Milwaukee with my friend Emily and a family reunion.  Fall and Winter have been filled with more birthdays, special time with our nephews, Quarry Quest (last year!), another Belly to Baby Expo, going to a Packer Game, Finding out my cousin and Ron's cousin are both expecting babies within weeks of me, Halloween, the end of volleyball till after the little guy comes, Zoo Boo, Heritage Hill and finding out that our little baby is a He.

I have to say after writing all of that I think we had a happy year despite how it started.

2016 will be here at midnight and I am excited. I feel like I have a lot to look forward to and am happy to be where I am.  Ron and I both have jobs we love, Kellen is wonderful and potty training is going really well right now and our new family member is healthy and growing so he can greet us in March or April.  We have a few fun things already planned such as a family trip to Wisconsin Dells, birthday parties and baby showers, another Belly to Baby Expo in March and a trip to Milwaukee to see Daniel Tiger Live with Kellen (he is seriously going to pee his pants with excitement). I haven't planned to far into the year because our the little one, but I am looking forward to new adventures with my growing family.

I wanted to share with you my favorite meals/recipes from 2015. I love doing these round-ups because it reminds me to make some of these again!

Happy New Year friends! Tonight, I hope that you can celebrate the good things that happened to you this year and wish you peace, luck, happiness and love in 2016!


January

Dijon Blood Orange Marinated Salmon

Oh my goodness was this delicious. I still remember the flavors of this salmon. This recipe makes me so excited for blood oranges to pop-up on the shelves. 



Creamy Balsamic and Herb Chicken

This was a recipe I made on a whim and it was amazing. The sauce was so good and my balsamic hating husband actually loved it!



February

 Pan Seared Pork Chops with Red Wine Thyme Reduction

I made this for a Valentine's recipe challenge and it was so great it needed to be on this list. The recipe was so easy, but how delicious does that seared pork chop look? Yum!



March

Junk Yard Special

This recipe came from a Secret Recipe Club Swap. It is one of my all time favorite sandwiches and I am so happy I tried it. 


Salted Nut Roll Bars

I brought these to the Dells last year because my husband and friend Kayla are candy bar twins and both love Salted Nut Roll. These were so good and easy. I think I will make them to bring this year!



April

Grilled Chicken Caprese

This recipe was a little premature to tomato season, but it was so wonderful. The tomatoes, the balsamic,  the cheese and the herbs.....so wonderful. I have made this one a few times since and it is a regular in the summer. 



May

Classic Lime Margaritas

This margarita mix makes the best margaritas EVER.  I made tones of it this summer to make these margaritas. I actually have two jars frozen in my freezer and will freeze blood orange juice for blood orange margaritas after the baby is born!



June


Bacon, Egg and Roasted Asparagus Salad

So simple and so delicious. I can't wait till asparagus season so I can enjoy this for breakfast again! Runny eggs and asparagus are nothing short of amazing. 




Blueberry, Basil and Goat Cheese Galette

I made this for a party with a good friend who moved to LA this year. I am so proud of her and was so happy all my friends loved this. This recipe was also a Runner Up in the Fresh from the Garden recipe contest for Taste of Home. Look for it in the June/July 2016 issue!



July


Penne with Feta Pesto Cream Sauce and Meatballs

Summer means fresh herbs and fresh herbs mean pesto to me! I love the combo of feta and pesto.... the meatballs were the delicious icing on the cake! It was a bit heavy for summer, but the flavors were amazing. 




August

Creamy Chicken Bacon Pesto Gnocchi Skillet

Oh look more pesto! This recipe was a weeknight win. It is so easy to make and put together on a busy weeknight!



September

Creamy One-Pot Stove Top Mac and Cheese

Hello pregnancy cravings! In the beginning of the pregnancy pasta was the winner.....I guess still is the winner...HA.  This is so easy and it is all in one-pot!



October

IKEA Swedish Meatballs

My mom's side of the family is Swedish and it is hard for me to pass up a meatball.  I tried IKEA's recipe for the first time and they were really good....as good as my Grandma's? Not sure about that, but pretty tasty. 



November

Szechuan Green Beans and Ground Pork

Ron and I really got into stir fry in November and this was my favorite one we tried. I loved how easy it was and Kellen loved it- bonus!





December (I have a few favorites this month!)

One-Pot Chili Mac

One-pot dishes could be my food anthem this year. This was my hands down favorite of all of them. Warm, filling and kid friendly. 



Old-Fashioned Deli-Style Ham Salad

My Aunt always made ham salad after Christmas and this was so close to hers it felt like I was in Indiana eating it on white bread with my cousins. I can't wait to make this again since Ron and I ate it all before sharing!



Potato Chip Topped Tuna Casserole (Cream Soup Free!)

Nostalgic meals were a favorite in this month and this version of a childhood favorite was so good. 


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Reader Favorites

I really liked putting together of my reader favorites for each month in 2015! Some were surprises and others were obvious favorites from the start. Last year, one of my blogging goals was to put more effort into my photos and I am really happy with what I have accomplished. The saying is that we eat with out eyes first and I think that is really true. Last year, my list was mixed with DSLR, IPhone and point and shoot photos and this year I moved to all DSLR and I can certainly see the difference. I have always been a blogger who blogs because she loves it and having lovely photos makes me love it even more. So what is a reasonable goal for 2016? I have thought about it and want to focus even more on original recipes and a few more giveaways. I have always had a large amount or originals, but I think it is important to have recipes that are tried and true to my family. Anything you would like to see on this blog in 2016? I have to remind myself that there will be a new pair of feet to pitter patter around our house and that will be a challenge all on it's own!

Tomorrow I will post my 2015 favorites, recap of my year and thing I am looking forward to in 2016!

January


This baby skyrocketed on Pinterest and I am not surprised to see it here (it is probably the most popular recipe this year). It is delicious and very kid friendly. It seems that you can't go wrong with chicken, bacon and ranch!



February


Oh. Drool. I made this for a group recipe challenge for Valentine's day. I am in love with the blue cheese and mustard combo. Good pick folks! 



March


I made these cheesecakes the celebrate a fellow blogger's wedding anniversay. These were so good and so easy! Plus, the mini size allows for a little portion control....or you can just have two!



April


My cousin makes porchetta occasionally and I love it. You can imagine why I was drawn to this recipe. It is a little lighter than regular porchetta, but absolutely as delicious.



May


This is one of my favorite photos and was a very poplar recipe this year. They recipe is really easy, but looks very impressive. My friends who made it loved it as well. This recipe started my one-pot obsession for most of 2015.



June


See another one-pot! This recipe was a Ron inspiration because of his bacon cheese burger love. It was another easy recipe and I could eat it with pickles- what's not to love about that? 



July


This recipe was the kick off the the Cookbook Challenge (still going on till July 2016!). I absolutely loved this and made it because it is one of my sister's favorite drinks. 



August


This was around when I found out I was pregnant with baby boy #2! Our garden was going crazy and I made this sauce for and even more amazing vegetable lasagna. 



September


This was another recipe from my Cookbook Challenge. It was outside my comfort zone and so delicious. I love banana anything and it tasted so good- the topping was the best part!



October


We had a warm September and soup season didn't start till October. I made this for Secret Recipe Club and adored it. It is probably one of my favorite soups ever. 



November


You can thank PRiMO for this post. They are so generous to me and allowed me to host a fun giveaway for my readers. I made this bread to share of of their products with you and I can assure you the bread was out of this world tasty. 



December



Certainly one of my 2015 favorites. This was a Secret Recipe Club post and the ham salad brought me right back to my grandma's at Christmas with my cousins. 




See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Potato Chip Topped Tuna Casserole (Cream Soup Free!)

I have a special place in my heart for tuna casserole. I am not sure why because it wasn’t something I grew up eating on a regular basis except at friend’s houses, but I always love it when I have it. 

Normally, the casserole is made with canned cream soups, but I decided to make my own sauce, add a few different cheeses and top it with salty and crunchy potato chips. Delicious. I have had casseroles topped with corn flakes and crushed crackers before, but I must say that crushed potato chips are they absolute best topper!  I also like to add sliced mushroom and peas to my casserole because what would tuna casserole be without peas and mushrooms? Certainly not the comfort food that I get a hankering for!  I like to use shell pasta for this recipe, but elbow or other small shapes will work just fine.  I opted to use cheddar jack cheese and swiss because I like the mild flavors, but they give me just enough cheese flavor without being too strong.  My husband and Kellen both love this casserole and I consider that a win in my book!  I normally use plain chips for my casserole, but a flavored, like sour cream and onion or jalapeno, would taste nice as well. 

It always makes me laugh when nostalgic dishes like this enter my kitchen. It honestly seems to happen more when I am pregnant. I suppose in a way you want to be comforted and childhood foods do seem to that that effect….especially pasta these days! I can say that this time around the food aversions are almost non-existent except for a few things like chicken (again). I am so thankful for that because with Kellen I pretty much hated everything besides cheese, pasta and apples.  Pregnancy is a funny thing….but it is a wonderful thing and, so far, our little guy is doing great! I can’t believe we will meet him face to face in about 13 more weeks!

Tomorrow and Thursday I am posting my favorite 2015 recipes and my reader's favorite 2015 recipes!


Ingredients

8 oz shaped pasta (I like to use shells)
2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl flour
1 ½ cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Jack  cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 (2.5 oz) tuna packets (packed in water and no added flavorings)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup crushed plain potato chips


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. 

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Whisk for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Adjust heat if needed to avoid burning. 

Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue whisking and allow the sauce to thicken-slightly simmering-for 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat. 

Once sauce has slightly thickened add the cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup of the cheddar jack for topping).  Whisk till all cheese is melted. Gently stir in the pasta, peas, tuna and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with crushed potato chips.

Bake  25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Weekly Meal Plan 12/28 - 1/3

Christmas really went by in a wink this year! I hope all of you had a lovely holiday! 

We celebrated with my family on Thursday and Ron's family on Friday. We had a wonderful time at both and it never ceases to amaze me how spoiled we are by our families. I don't just mean with gift that things like that, but the time set aside by everyone to have a nice day together is the most meaningful thing of all. My Dad and I cooked Christmas Eve dinner and I got to relax the following day and my Mother-in-Law prepared a delicious meal. 

Kellen was just as fun as he was last year. He got into Santa this year and loved asking questions about the different holiday traditions. 

Here are a few snap shots of our holiday celebrations:








The remainder of our break was spent relaxing. I have had a little cough for almost three weeks and it starter to get worse over the weekend and resting was just what the doctor ordered. I am still feeling a little cruddy, but am on the mend. 

On Monday night almost a foot of snow dropped! A little late for a white Christmas, but it was beautiful none the less. What isn't beautiful is digging out the driveway in the morning....my poor husband. After years of resisting I think it is finally time to get a new snow plow.  Tonight I am headed to dinner with a friend and then home to relax. Ron and I have been watching the Netflix series, "Making a Murderer" and are hooked. The series is about Steven Avery and both of his convictions. The events took place about 30 minutes from here and it is a very well known case in our area. Avery served 18 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit and a few years after his release he was charged with murder a young area woman. I read the prosecutor's book this summer and found it really interesting and this series is not disappointing either. 

Havea  great week everyone and good luck to those who are also snowed in! 

Monday: Chili
Tuesday: Sub Sandwiches and Chips
Wednesday: Out for Dinner
Thursday: New Year's Eve- Menu TBA....
Friday: Slowcooker Burgundy Beef Roast, Roasted Garlic Au Gratin Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli
Saturday: Round Robin with Ron's Family/ Taco Soup for Dinner
Sunday: Last Regular Season Packer Game! Grilled Brats, Sauerkraut, Baked Beans, Potato Salad and Cookies

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh my Christmas Eve is tomorrow! The holidays have come so fast this year, but the weather has not seemed to catch on to the memo and it is 47 degrees today! 

If you are looking for a last minute cookie recipe that is perfect for kids, adults and Santa- check these cookies out! I went on the hunt for the best oatmeal chocolate chip recipe because it is Ron's favorite and I found this keeper from Taste of Home. This recipe is so easy and makes a lot of cookies- perfect to share at a holiday gathering....or to keep for yourself and eat them all while you watch Survivor at night..... Kellen and Ron were big fans and I know these will be making an appearance even when the holidays are over!

Today is my last day of work for the week! Tonight we are wrapping, baking cookies, making truffles and I am getting a much needed haircut!  Tomorrow, we are celebrating with my parents and my Dad and I are cooking up a feast! Kellen and my nephew are no doubt excited! On Christmas Day, we are going to Ron's parents and it is going to be so fun. Kellen is so lucky to have cousins around his age and it is so fun to watch the kids play together! 

Have a wonderful holiday my friends!


Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Instructions

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 11-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. 

Yield: 4 dozen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Iced Molasses Cookies

What would the holidays be without cookies? 

Ron, Kellen and I are partial to iced molasses cookies and love having them as a little after dinner treat. While molasses cookies don't scream Santa to me like a traditional cut-out cookie, they certainly remind me of the flavors of a gingerbread man, but come without all the work of rolling and cutting out the dough! I use a recipe from Joy of Baking and it always turns out wonderful! The icing is very east to make and I like to add it as a drizzle at the end after the cookies cool, but feel free to use as much as you want. I also finish the cookies with a sprinkle of ice crystal type sprinkle topping.  I normally find these in the baking section of my grocery store. 

My family loved these cookies and we have gobbled them up before there was a chance to leave any for Santa! I guess we need to make another batch before Thursday night! 

Tonight we are heading to a birthday dinner and then home to relax. I need to make a few homemade gifts and get my Oreo truffle (batch number 2!) filling done for easy assembly on Wednesday night. 

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week! We had a slight dusting of snow overnight and it will probably melt, but it was nice to see a little white before Christmas! 



Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1  tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbl vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses (not backstrap)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar

Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 Tbl milk (you may need to add a touch more depending on consistency)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk ingredients together. Icing should be made right before it is going to be used or it will harden. 


Instructions

In a large bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes). Add the oil, molasses, egg, and vanilla and beat until evenly mixed. Slowly beat in the flour mixture mixture until well incorporated. Cover and chill the batter until firm (2-8 hours).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Place white granulated sugar in a medium sized bowl. When the dough has chilled sufficiently, roll into 1 inch  balls. Then roll the balls of dough into the sugar, coating them thoroughly. Place on the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches  apart and, with the bottom of a glass, flatten the cookies slightly. Bake for about 9 - 10 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies have crinkles yet are barely dry.  Remove from oven and cool.

Once cookies are cool drizzle with icing and top with sprinkles if using.

Store in an airtight container for about 1 - 1 1/2 weeks. 

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Peppermint Cheesecake Dip

Sometimes it is good to step outside of your comfort zone, right?  

My work had a dip contest last week and I entered this dip and it won the sweet category! I am normally not a person who gravitates towards a sweet dip, but decided to take the plunge and go with a sweet dip. In the spirit of being festive I wanted to use some of the lovely candy canes hanging from my tree and make a peppermint cheesecake dip!  

This dip is so easy to make and is a great addition to a spread as an appetizer or a dessert. I love the pretty pink color the crushed candy canes give the dip. I opted to serve this with graham crackers and chocolate covered pretzels. I have to say that that pretzels are amazing- sweet and salty for the win!  I also like to top the dip with crushed candy canes....so pretty. I like to use a food processor to crush them because it gets them very fine, but it is not necessary if you don't have one. The best part of crushing the candy canes was the look on Kellen's face as he watched me take them from the tree and put them in the food processor. Poor kid was so confused!  Thankfully, he really liked his sample of dip! 

Tonight was a bit of a crazy night at our house. Ron had a long day at work and was in bed by 8 and I have had the run of the house! Feels odd..... but I decided that I can use my free time for blogging and gift wrapping. I am such a wrapping procrastinator....ugh....

To wrap up (har har), this dip is a great for a party! My co-workers loved it and it is beautiful and festive- perfect for a holiday party!


Ingredients

2 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 - 3 teaspoon peppermint extract (taste as you go depending on how strong you want it)
2 (8 oz) containers Cool Whip
7 crushed candy canes* (reverse a little for the topping)
Chocolate Graham Crackers
Chocolate Covered Pretzels


Instructions

Using a stand or hand mixer, mix the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the sugar and peppermint extract and mix until smooth and combined.

Add the Cool Whip and mix until evenly combined.

Gently fold in the crushed candy canes. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with chocolate graham crackers and chocolate covered pretzels and top with remaining crushed candy canes.

*I use a food process to get the candy canes crushed very fine, but if you don’t have one a double bagged ziplock and a heavy can will work.

Weekly Meal Plan 12/21 - 12/27

Happy Monday everyone! 

Christmas week is here! It is amazing how fast this time of year goes. Green Bay still doesn't have any snow and it has been a little harder getting into the spirit this year without a white Christmas, but the year has been good to us and it is hard not be unhappy about that! 

This weekend we celebrated Christmas with my mom's side of the family. There are about 25 of us total and with more little ones on the way we will have even more people next year! It is really fun to see the kids grown each year and develop their own relationships. 

On Friday, we met my cousins, aunt and parents for dinner and it was lots of fun. Afterwards I went to my parents house to make Swedish meatballs with my aunt and mom. As a kid, my Grandma always made a traditional Swedish meal for Christmas. That tradition has fallen by the wayside, but we decided to do meatballs with year with my great grandmother's recipe. They were very easy to make and it was a lot of fun for us to make them together. 

Saturday I was up early making truffles and stopping at my parents to prep a few things for dinner. Mid-afternoon Kellen had a birthday party with his best bud from school. It was so adorable to watch the little guys run and play outside of school! After the party, Ron dropped me at my parents house and they went home to get Kellen down for a nap. I cooked up a storm and got dinner on the table for 6:00 pm! I was proud of myself because I was worried on meeting my deadline, but it worked out great. The meatballs were fantastic! They reminded us all of childhood and I think will be coming back next year- plus it is so awesome to have one thing all done the night before. After dinner we opened gifts and the kids were so patient. They only asked to open about 4 times and, in my book, that is great for having them within arms reach most of the night! My cousins and I also exchange gifts and I received a Jurassic World Blue-Ray and Game of Thrones adult coloring book- does my family know me or what. Our family also does a white elephant exchange and that was fun and rowdy- per usual. I did miss my traditional Tom & Jerry, but it is something to look forward to next year! 

On Sunday, poor Ron had to work so Kellen and I headed to my parents house for the day. We also spent the day with my Dad because it is his birthday! We watched football and, while Kellen napped, the girls headed out for a nice relaxing pedicure. The Packer game was a win and that was great! Packers also secured a pay-off spot- Happy Birthday Dad! We ordered Indian take-out in the evening and then we headed home to relax and hang out with Ron. I think everyone in our house hit the hay pretty hard on Sunday night!

This week I am looking forward to a short week! However, I do not have a single gift wrapped and I know evening will be a bit of a scramble. This holiday, like we normally do, we are celebrating with my family and Ron's family and are excited to spend time together. I also saved the ham bone from Saturday's ham and am looking forward to making a big pot of bean soup for the game next Sunday!

Have a good week everyone!   

Monday: One Pot Chicken Feta Alfredo and Salad
Tuesday: Out for Pizza with Friends
Wednesday: Taco Soup
Thursday: Ramaker Christmas: Steaks with Brandy Dijon Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Van Able's Green Beans
Friday: Creamy Egg Strata with Sausage and Cinnamon Rolls/ Lecker Christmas
Saturday: Out
Sunday: Bean and Ham Soup

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Welcome to December's What's Baking! 


The theme for this month is Biscotti and was selected by our host, hosted by Colleen of The Redhead Baker. Prior to this assignment I had never made biscotti before. I actually don't eat biscotti often, but thought it would be something fun to try for the holidays! 

I decided to try a recipe from Serious Eats for  Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti. The recipe was super easy, but when it came to manipulating my dough I had a little trouble getting the right shape. However, the biscotti tasted delicious even if it was not my prettiest creation! I am sure that with more practice I will get better at it. This batch I kept for myself, but am going to try another to get the shape looking a little better to give as gifts to friends and family for Christmas! I did change the amount of flour I used based on some of the recipe review complaining of dry sandy dough. I decreased the amount and did not have trouble with the consistency. One other adaptation I plan on making is to chop the hazelnuts. The original recipe calls for the whole and it s tasty, but I think having little tastes throughout the biscotti would be even better. 

Last night Kellen finished up his swim class session and will be off for two weeks till the next session starts. He is doing so well in the water and it makes me so proud of him! Tonight, my Dad and I are shopping for our large family Christmas this weekend. Also on my to do list is a batch of Oreo truffles, a batch of cookies and homemade lip balm.....I think I might have too much on my plate tonight...good thing babies and toddlers condition you not to need as much sleep....lucky me. 

Hope everyone's week is going great! I have a few delicious cookie recipe coming up in the next few days for those of you who are still looking for ways to fill Santa's plate!



Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbl all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cups hazelnuts, whole, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 large egg for egg wash


Instructions

Position one rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar for  until a sandy mixture forms. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until fluffy and lighter in color.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, coffee powder, baking soda, and cinnamon and whisk together. Add to the butter-and-egg mixture in 2 additions, and mix only until combined.

Fold the hazelnuts and chocolate chips into the dough, and mix until evenly distributed. If it is too sticky to handle, chill briefly.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a log about 2 inches wide by 14 inches long by 1 1/2 inches high. Place the logs on the prepared sheet pan with several inches between them.

In a small bowl, mix 1 egg with 1 teaspoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush each log with egg wash, coating them evenly on the top and sides.

Bake for 27 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet from front to back halfway through baking, until very lightly browned and somewhat firm. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Cool the logs for 20 minutes, then place them on a cutting board. With a serrated knife, slice each log on a slight angle into 3/4-inch-thick pieces, keeping them in a row. Slide the row of biscotti together, lift and place back on the cookie sheet, then separate the slices, leave 1/2 inch of space between each one.

Bake again for 9 to 12 minutes, rotating once during baking, until the biscotti feel slightly firm.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12/14 - 12/20

Oh my goodness how does the weekend go by so fast! I missed posting my meal plan!

This weekend was a blur, but for good reason! It was my little Kellen's 3rd birthday! 

I took off on Friday with Ron and we spent the day with Kellen. In the morning, I had a quick appointment with my doctor to check on our littlest family member before heading out with my boys. We went to the National Railroad Museum, Red Robin for lunch, home for nap/presents while I shopped for his party on Saturday, lots of playtime and a few Micky Mouse shows and dinner and games at his favorite pizza restaurant. I think it is safe to say the little guy had a fun day. The Railroad Museum was having some kid of special event when we got there are he got to see Santa and decorate a cookie! Here are a few snaps from the day: 





On Saturday, I got in the kitchen and headed to my parents early for Kellen's pirate themed birthday party! He had a wonderful day and loved his gifts, cake and running crazy with his friends. His little cheeks were so red from playing- it was so cute! Here are a few snaps from the party:



Later in the evening I joined my cousins for dinner. They were in town for the game and it was so much fun to be with them. 

Sunday was all about relaxing, Packers and baking! We had such a busy few days that hanging around the house was perfect for us. We did venture our for a quick brunch with my cousins, but stayed home the rest of the day. The Packers got a win and it was great! It seems like they might be back on the right track again! I baked a few dozen cookies and prepped for a little more baking this week. So far I have oatmeal chocolate chip and molasses....more to come on that this week!

This week we are getting ready for a big family Christmas with my mom's side! I love this time of year!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Cheese and Vegetable Chowder with Kielbasa and Rolls
Tuesday:  Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Garlic Bread
Wednesday: Subs or Leftovers after Swim
Thursday: Simple Taco Soup
Friday: Dinner with my Cousins
Saturday: Family Christmas
Sunday: Dad's Birthday Celebration

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Old-Fashioned Deli-Style Ham Salad #SecretRecipeClub

Welcome to December's Secret Recipe Club Reveal! 


This month I was assigned Kelly's blog Wildflour's Cottage Kitchen. I was not familiar with this blogger and was excited to check out her recipes! Kelly and her family live in a cottage on a small lake and it sounds like lots of fun. Kelly described interests in cooking, photography and gardening and I imagine it is a beautiful place for all of those things! Kelly also worked in catering and restaurants.  She is also a field editor for Taste of Home- she is a busy lady! 

The tricky part was finding a recipe to make! I debated between, Pesto Mustard Chicken Thigh TendersThe Italian Stallion Burger and Fish Tacos with Beer Battered Cod & Creamy Chipotle Sauce.  However, I decided to make Old-Fashioned Deli-Style Ham Salad. I know ham salad might seem like an odd choice, but it is a childhood comfort food to me. Every Christmas, after we finished our meal, my aunt Cherry made the most delicious ham salad. We ate this for lunch or dinner in the days to follow - always with a side of plain Lays potato chips. When I saw Kelly's recipe I thought it might be similar to my aunt's beloved ham salad. I knew that she used sweet relish and miracle whip as well. The original recipe did not specify a type of mayo so I did half regular mayo and half miracle whip. I also increased the amount of mayo because the 1/4 cup left my salad a bit drier than I like. I got the ham from my local deli since I don't have a meat grinder and didn't have leftover Christmas ham! I was so pleased with Kelly's recipe! It reminded me so much of my aunt's and Ron and I really enjoyed eating it for lunches for the next few days. After I made it I sent a photo to my sister and she was also very excited to try it....but Ron and I ate it all. Oh well, I guess I will just have to make it again- what a punishment...haha. 

Thank you Kelly for a lovely recipe that brought me wonderful memories.  Check out the other Secret Recipe Club participants below! 


Ingredients

1 lb cooked ground ham
3 Tbl sweet relish
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup miracle whip
1 tbl sweet pickle juice
salt and pepper


Instructions

Place ham in a medium to large mixing bowl. Add relish, mayo, miracle whip and pickle juice. Gently stir until evenly mixed. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Allow the ham salad to chill in the fridge 30 minutes before serving. Suggested serving is on crackers or as a sandwich.